Chelsea January Transfer Window – Who could leave?

With the winter window being newly opened, its likely we see some activity from Chelsea Football Club to progress their plans for the squad. However, it seems the focus for the window may be offloading players from the large squad Chelsea now have rather than adding further depth and talent.

Ahead of the Manchester City game, Frank Lampard was asked about the club’s plans for the window ahead and he had this to say:

“I have ideas. We have a big squad, we’ll have to see if that changes, if there are opportunities for players who aren’t playing so much. That will be a conversation between the player, club and myself.”

He continued by adding;

“Then we’ll see if we can strengthen in the right way, but we’re not jumping up and down to do so. My focus this year is purely on work because we have new players, because we have young players, so I’m focusing on that. But we’ll see, it’s a long month.”

Chelsea’s plans for the January window

As Lampard mentioned in his answer during the press conference, it seems the focus is going to be finding moves for players who are lacking game time, whether that be a loan move or a permanent one. Therefore, we’ll go through and discuss the different players we might see find a permanent move elsewhere, and who might be looking for a loan move based on reports, while discussing each player’s circumstances in the process.

Permanent Moves

Antonio Rüdiger

Rudiger is a player who could likely be on his way out this window with hopes of securing a spot to be selected for the Euros this upcoming summer. After being signed by Antonio Conte the summer after Chelsea’s most recent title winning campaign, Rudiger has struggled ever since to remain in the starting lineup under Lampard. Being a prominent player for his international side of Germany, it seems the only alternative is to move elsewhere. Reports came out back in October sparked by Joachim Low himself stating that Rudiger:

“Tried everything to leave Chelsea because the European Championship is very important to him. I think he’ll try to leave again in the winter. He’s doing everything he can to stay in his best form.”

Joachim Low on Rudiger’s situation at Chelsea

With window newly opened, we’ll see which clubs offer for Rudiger in his search for regular game time.


Jorginho was originally signed when Chelsea brought in Maurizio Sarri to takeover from Antonio Conte. It was understood that he was an integral part of the Sarri-ball system and was utilized as deepest midfielder in a 4-3-3 in the famous Regista role. However, it’s likely we see him move on from Chelsea since the sacking of Sarri and his lack of game time under Frank Lampard.

His agent, Joao Santos came out back in November stating that Jorginho could follow Maurizio Sarri wherever his new project may be. This, combined with his original transfer fee of £50M could mean we see him moving on from the club to make space in the already crowded midfield Chelsea have, and recoup some funds for future moves.

Marcos Alonso

Marcos Alonso Profile, News & Stats | Premier League
Photo Source: Premier League

After his poor performances so far in the league this season Alonso has not seen any game time since the 3-3 draw against West Brom. With Ben Chilwell fully fit and the clear first choice, as well as Emerson now seemingly second in the pecking order, Alonso looks to be another player whose time is up at the club.

Originally coming in again under Antonio Conte before our title winning campaign, Alonso proved to be a pivotal player operating in the left wing-back role in the 3-4-3. However, since transitioning to a 4 ATB system, he’s struggled ever since in being able to get up and down the field effectively as well as be defensively reliable.

Reports from The Independent and Sports Illustrated have both discussed a move for the Spanish international back to his home country. Atletico Madrid currently seem the most interested side for Alonso’s services, so it’s possible we see him on his way out this window.

Emerson Palmieri

The alternate left back has also been linked recently with a move away from Stamford Bridge. Signed originally by Conte as well for depth, Emerson was once again is a player who never really broke into the first team.

Reports from Sports Illustrated have stated that two teams have potential interest for the left back, both coming from Italy. First of the two being a reunion with Antonio Conte at Inter Milan who are looking to challenge for the Scudetto this year. The second team being Napoli who are also seemingly interested in the player.

However, as a result of the interest in Marcos Alonso and Emerson’s status as second choice under Lampard, it’s possible Chelsea hold onto him for longer than this window where they can find a proper replacement.

Danny Drinkwater

Danny Drinkwater is another player on this list who never truly got involved in the first team and has recently featured with the U23s. During his spell at Chelsea he’s had a few discplinary issues, including being involved in an altercation during a game with the U23 squad. Drinkwater’s time at Chelsea has been tumultuous to say the least. He was originally signed for a fee of £35M pounds for depth and was rarely deployed, which left many fans scratching their heads.

Reports last year stated the hammers were potentially interested in the player, however it’s uncertain whether this is still the case. Regardless, it’s likely he is on his way out wherever that may be as most fans would probably be pleased to see the back of him.

Others Notable Players

Additional players worth mentioning who could also see their way out include the following:

  • Michy Batshuayi who is currently on loan at Crystal Palace but has been scarce of playing time even there. Although it’s uncertain when he may move on, it seems his time at Chelsea is likely over as well.
  • Davide Zappacosta currently on loan at Genoa C.F.C. Signed originally under Conte for additional depth at right wing-back, failed to truly get involved in the first team and likely to move elsewhere permanently
  • Tiemoue Bakayoko, brought in to fill the void left by Nemanja Matić in 2018 Bakayoko was quickly dismissed by all managers who succeed Antonio Conte who he was signed under. After a couple loan moves at A.C. Milan and this year at Napoli, it seems Bakayoko has recouped enough market value through regular game time for a permanent move.

Loan Moves

Moving onto loan moves, we’ll be discuss players we could see go on loan who are also looking to get more regular game time. This may result for a variety of reasons, namely for certain players to further develop and fight for a place in the first team the following season, as well as others looking to bring up their market value with options to buy for inevitable permanent deals in the future. That being said, we’ll discuss which players could fit into these categories and use reports to further the context of each player and their given circumstances.

Tino Anjorin

Originally, it seemed Tino was set for first team opportunities as he was moved up and training with the squad regularly. Liam Twomey reported for The Athletic at the beginning of the season that Tino was set to stay at the club for this year.

However, with only 3 appearances this season and limited game time, it’s possible this stance is reevaluated this window in a similar fashion that Twomey’s tweet states: “he gets a loan offer that’s too good to refuse.”

Anjorin is an extremely talented player, and ideally if a club in Europe’s top 5 leagues comes with an offer that entails regular game time for the 19-year-old to further develop, it might be one of consideration for the Frank and the club.

Billy Gilmour

After a knee operation which forced Gilmour out of the first team for the rest of project restart, Gilmour has become fully fit again and appeared a couple times already for the club as a sub for a total of 36 minutes. However, last season many saw the remarkably talented player and have ever since been excited for his return to the squad.

Although the club’s plans were likely similar to that of Tino, if not more willing to utilize Gilmour throughout the season, news has come out in the past month of many clubs interested in taking the Scottish midfielder on loan. Reports from a few sources have cited the Glasgow Rangers as a likely destination, and it’s no secret he’s a player of many talents and in demand.

Lampard spoke to BT Sport in reference to his plans for Gilmour stating:

“I’m not sure. The way he trains and plays I can see him with us. I have to make sure the pathway is right.”

Lampard on Gilmour this season

Therefore, we’ll have to keep an eye out for any further developments in regard to Gilmour for the rest of this season and what “pathway” the manager feels is right for him.

Fikayo Tomori

Fikayo Tomori is another player to keep an eye out on with recent development influencing his status and future. Although last season for a time he had been a regular part of the first team and playing often in the league, this season has been a different story with Tomori only having played 45 minutes in the league. In the summer window leading up to the season, the new signing of Thiago Silva, as well as incumbents of Rudiger, Christensen, and Zouma, questions were being asked of Tomori’s position in the ranks. As a result discussions of whether a loan move to another club might suit him for this season came about.

No move was made, and since then it seems he’s become the 5th choice under Lampard with Rudiger and Christensen receiving more time as rotational players and with Zouma and Silva the starters. As a result, rumors have circulated again linking Tomori to clubs such as Newcastle, Leeds, and Rennes for a loan move this window.

Although some sort of move seemed quite likely, reports are now coming out altering this status. With the injury to Christensen against Aston Villa, Chelsea are seemingly blocking any loan offer for the player. Whether Christensen’s injury is severe enough to see Tomori remain with the club is yet to be seen, regardless it’s another player to watch out for in the case that Christensen comes back sooner than expected and Tomori is allowed to leave.

Kepa arrizabalaga

Kepa is our last player in discussion, with his story and circumstances being quite more complex than the others. Being signed as the most expensive goal keeper for a fee of £71m, and on wages of £150,000 per week, his return for the club has been poor to say the least. With Edouard Mendy the clear starter, it’s clear the club are not looking to keep Kepa as the 2nd choice keeper for such an investment, and it’s unlikely he’s content with this role himself.

Reports have come out that Kepa is looking to return to his home country of Spain and is willing to take massive wage cuts in order to do so. Although his form has recently been so poor, that Chelsea would be unlikely to recoup anywhere near the fee they’ve paid for him, hence why is possible he is sent out on a loan move.

The hope is Kepa can move to a club for a season or even two, with his wages subsidized and more minutes to regain his confidence and market value. Ideally, some sort of option to buy clause would be included in the deal, in which case he can then be shipped off permanently, hence the complexity of the deal.

Can Kepa revive his career with a move away from Stamford Bridge?

Kepa Arrizabalaga is the perfect example of a panic buy. Chelsea were left with a vastly important decision to make following the unpleasant departure of Thibaut Courtois. A replacement had to be signed, and it had to be done fast.

Then came the announcement that Chelsea had signed Athletic Bilbao keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. For many, this came as a shock, as Kepa wasn’t entirely known as a stand out keeper, and many saw the move as a downgrade to Courtois. As well as varied opinions on the player himself, the price tag raised many concerns as to whether this deal was the best for the club.

£72million for a 24-year-old goalkeeper who was yet to prove himself entirely at his former club was nothing short of outrageous from Chelsea. The move showed next to no ambition and was seen as a huge stab in the dark. However, there must have been certain things that attracted Chelsea toward the Spaniard, right?

Kepa’s time at Athletic Bilbao:

Well, to go off stats alone, Kepa produced far from attractive numbers to trigger a move from Chelsea for the Spaniard. In 53 games, Kepa managed 15 clean sheets. During his first season in the BBVA, he made on average, 1.7 saves per 90 minutes, which isn’t an admirable statistic. He improved slightly in his second season, with an average of 3.2 saves per 90 minutes. (Stats from and

The stats reinforce the idea that Chelsea panicked when Courtois exited and didn’t do enough homework when searching for a replacement. A signing was certainly required, but you would expect better recruitment from a club with Chelsea’s stature. The price tag doesn’t help at all, either. Had Chelsea picked Kepa up for sub £30million, it would arguably not have been as big of a flop as it actually was, but for £72million, you expect a world class talent, and Kepa just isn’t that.

Where could he go?:

Kepa’s time in the Premier League has ultimately been a dissapointment. The Spaniard failed to live up to the hype, and now finds himself in a difficult position. A move away from Stamford Bridge is the only way he can revive his career. So where would he go?

At the age of 26, Kepa still has a lot to prove. A move back to Spain could be a positive option for him, as the game is completely different to English football. Premier League football has an extremely high intensity, and defenders rely heavily on passing back to the keeper. This has never been good for Kepa, as his distribution is very poor. In Spain, the game is played at a slower pace, which would benefit Kepa’s overall performance, giving him more time to prepare for shots, and also takes the pressure off when he recieves the ball.

Kepa has proved that he is a decent shot stopper, with important saves including THAT penalty save against Frankfurt, the wonder save against Watford, and the incredible double save in the Super Cup against Liverpool. That being said, he has let Chelsea down on countless occasions, thus leading to a depleting confidence, which may improve with a move back to his native country.

Chelsea’s current standpoint:

Chelsea have made it pretty clear that Kepa has no future at the club. The arrival of Edouard Mendy made that very clear, as Mendy has impressed immensely since moving to the SW6. The Blues have also been heavily linked with AC Milan superstar Gianluigi Donnarumma, which would potentially leave Kepa as Chelsea’s third choice. It is also unlikely that Chelsea would continue to pay the high wages of Kepa, meaning his career in London is very much over.

Kepa could very well revive his career with a move back to Spain, much like Courtois did following a rough patch in his Chelsea career. Courtois is now recognised as one of the world’s best goalkeepers, and Kepa could be the same. Only time will tell what happens with the Spaniard, but it is all but confirmed that his Chelsea career is coming to an end.

Written by @mashgreaves

How Chelsea’s Hot Run of Form Is All Because of Edouard Mendy

Chelsea’s season began on a positive note – a 3-1 win against Brighton away. The 1 goal conceded was dismissed mostly as a blip as snakebitten Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was lazily beaten from range by Brighton’s Belgian forward Leandro Trossard. gave Trossard’s strike a 0.02 xG. This means that this attempt at goal is expected to score 1 in every 50 tries. Well, at least if the defense plays like they did we’ll be ok, right? Wrong.

Six days later, we had another Kepa “blip” against reigning Premier League champions Liverpool. On the stroke of halftime, Kepa brazenly rushed out of goal to try and meet Sadio Mane forty yards out. While Andreas Christensen was nearby, and mistakenly allowed Mane to get through, Christensen was not confident in Kepa’s chances of stopping Mane and he was subsequently hauled down for a professional last man foul – and a red card. While Chelsea were down 1-0 after a Mane header, they were still within striking range in the game. That all changed within 4 minutes of Mane’s first goal when Kepa gave him a second by playing the ball right to him inside the box. With the team forced to play down an attacker and Jorginho failing to convert a penalty, Chelsea’s comeback hopes were effectively over at 2-0 as the penalty was the only true chance mustered for the entire second half.

Following this was another disastrous effort against West Brom which saw us fortunate to earn a draw thanks to a furious second half comeback. After just two Edouard Mendy appearances, one of which resulted in a penalty loss to Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, the team found themselves on the opposite side of the comeback fence versus Southampton where a brilliant Werner display was wasted in the last minute of the match due to a cumulative combination of dodgy defending and another meme-worthy Kepa effort at trying to clear a weak back pass.

The Southampton match could’ve been Kepa’s last appearance in a Blues shirt, with Mendy healthy and having already corralled 6 clean sheets in just 7 matches. 2 of the last 3 have been UEFA Champions League 3+ goal batterings of Stade Rennais and FC Krasnodar respectively. The talent has always been there so why the sudden drastic increase in form? Ask any Chelsea fan who’s been able to catch our last few matches, and they’ll promptly tell you the team looks more assertive, creative, mature and confident.

This is a direct result of Mendy’s introduction into the team and the Senegalese’s exceptional form in his starts. The attack and midfield feel more relaxed about crafting attacks and less stressed about feeling pressured to score before they get scored on. Another byproduct of this is the defense being able to be more assertive and confident without having to worry about being punished if they put a foot wrong. Usually the group would be worried about conceding a goal as soon as opposition worked their way into a shot opportunity. Furthermore, the attack and midfield won’t have to force passes and shots as often without having to play from behind or fear for having to play from behind imminently.

Where do we go from here?

Next up, Chelsea have Newcastle and Sheffield, with Sheffield coming at the weekend. These are another two games that Chelsea shouldn’t feel pressured in but will have their work cut out for them to break down staunch defensive tactics from opposing managers. Mendy and the defense will have to keep on their toes to stand up the counter attacks of these two teams. With roughly two months until the opening of the winter transfer window, it would behoove Frank Lampard (and maybe Petr Cech, unless he wants to play?) to begin scouting for backup goalkeepers as their first transfer move of 2021.

Willy Caballero is actually older than Petr Cech, while Kepa should do an Alvaro Morata and get binned off somewhere to find his form and confidence elsewhere before he becomes totally useless and Chelsea are stuck with a mammoth wage bill to pay, like Arsenal and disgruntled #10 Mesut Ozil. That is for the future however, and for right now, Chelsea are in safe, huge hands thanks to Edouard Mendy.

Chelsea Interview with Mark Worrall

Jerry Mancini spoke to Mark Worrall, author and publisher for Chelsea FC related books. He has written books such as Chelsea Here Chelsea There, ‘Blue Murder: ‘Chelsea Till I Die’ and Chelsea Football Fanzine.

How would you rate Frank Lampard’s first season with Chelsea? Additionally, why is Lampard struggling to coach defense?

“A very solid 7/10 for Super Frank. [A] victory in the FA Cup Final would have pushed it to 9/10. Achieving [a] top four [position in the English Premier League] in spite of having lost Eden Hazard and not being able to sign new players was commendable.

“Defence issues were there from day one. Frank permed every option available to him as far as centre-back pairings and 3 at the back was concerned without ever achieving consistency. Clearly there is the need for a quality centre-back to be added to the squad and a left-back. Goalkeeper has also been an issue which has led to a crisis of confidence on several occasions. I’d like to believe it’s a personnel issue rather than a coaching issue…. We will find out next season, if the squad is improved in this area.”

Willian left Chelsea after seven seasons to join Arsenal. Did you feel this was the right move by Chelsea and the player? Also, how do you view his time with the Blues?

“I love the bones of Willian. He hates Tottenham of course! Joking aside, every Chelsea manager he played for rated him and there were always offers coming in for him. I think he found it hard to be constantly in Eden Hazard’s shadow, but his contribution and work rate were top notch.

“The move to Arsenal, is proof that at 32 he’s not a spent force. Personally, I don’t like to see Blues players move to rival Premier League clubs, especially London clubs. Was it the right move for Chelsea? I think so. I’m not sure he would have got much in the way of game time next season the way the team looks to be shaping up with new players.”

Chelsea shocked many with the signing of Timo Werner. How do you see the German fitting into Lampard’s plans this upcoming season?

“If [he is] playing through the middle, [Timo] Werner will hopefully be the man to consistently convert the chances that Chelsea create down the flanks. There is flexibility though and he can play left-wing with Tammy [Abraham] as centre forward. Either way, he’s going to be one of the first names on Super Frank’s team-sheet and if he stays injury-free then a 50+ appearances season beckons.”

Which area should Chelsea focus on the most in this transfer market window?

“Goalkeeper needs to be addressed and one centre-back – I actually think left-back is less of an issue for now while Kai Havertz is a luxury signing. It looks like [Roman] Abramovich is motivated to spend, spend, spend and so it’s a question of finding the right players and getting the deals over the line.”

Chelsea have been very active in the transfer market. They have acquired Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and look close to signing Ben Chillwell and Kai Havertz. Which players do you believe will not benefit from all these players joining Chelsea?

“There’s quite a list, but avoiding the obvious ones who will be sold or loaned I do wonder how much game-time the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Tammy and perhaps also [Christian] Pulisic and [Mason] Mount will get over the course of the season.”

Do you think César Azpilicueta is the best captain in Chelsea’s history?

“Short answer, no. César Azpilicueta is a terrific ambassador for the Club and a loyal, dependable and versatile defender… but he is nowhere near John Terry in terms of providing do-or-die leadership on the pitch.”

What has been the downfall to Kepa’s career and do you see the Spaniard in goal next season for Chelsea?

“Kepa’s downfall started with his player-manager escapade at Wembley in the 2019 League Cup Final v Man City. He then allowed personal issues to cloud his game (girlfriend trouble). Having a shaky defence in front of him hasn’t given him confidence and that’s a two-way street. Being dropped for the latter stages of the 2019/20 campaign spoke volumes about how much the manager trusts him – he doesn’t

“Without the benefit of a decent pre-season to see if he can be trusted with a better defence in front of him (assuming new signings) I don’t see how Lampard can re-evaluate him and, on that basis, I can’t see him getting a game. That said, if Chelsea don’t sign another goalkeeper and something happens to Willy Caballero there may be no option other than to play him.”

Lastly, how do you see Chelsea finishing this season and do you think they will progress this upcoming year?

“Progress will largely depend on fixing the defensive problems that plagued Chelsea in 2019/20. Do that, and with exciting new attacking talent already on board and the promise of more to come then the Blues could give Liverpool and Man City a run for their money in the Premier League.

“Realistically, going one better and winning the FA Cup this time around looks like the best option of silverware with the League Cup as a back-up… or why not win both? The new season is all about finding the right formula team wise, do that and we should be seriously challenging for top honours including the Champions League within the next couple of years.”

Podcast: Chelsea Transfer Roundup w/Simon Phillips!

Make sure to follow us while you are there!

In another episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast, host Dan (@danbarkzr) and special guest Simon (@SiPhillipsSport) go into detail about Chelsea’s transfer window, talking about Sarr, Havertz, Silva, Rice, Barkley, Ampadu, Goalkeepers and so much more!

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Why we have to cut our losses on Kepa

In the aftermath of Chelsea’s damaging 3-0 defeat at Bramall Lane last weekend, Lampard stated with intent: “I have learned a lot and I won’t forget that”. Chelsea put in arguably their worst performance of the Lampard era as they were schooled by a well-drilled Sheffield United. The ominous message Lampard delivered after the game seemed to be directed at individuals he felt he could no longer trust to meet his standards. No player has let down this side more than goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga this season, and should Lampard follow through on what he said, the Spanish goalkeeper will be one of the first players to leave Stamford Bridge this summer. But where did it all go wrong for our £71.6 million record signing, and is there anyway back for him from here?

Kepa did not exactly cover himself in glory in the Sheffield United game. He cannot be faulted for the first goal conceded, in fact he produced a respectable save to keep out Oli McBurnie via a deflection, but once again his ability was called into question as he was beaten at his near post for the home side’s second. Andreas Christensen’s positioning may have been amateur – allowing McBurnie a free header at goal – but Kepa remained planted to the spot, unable to produce a straight-forward stop despite being well positioned to do so. You have to look back just a week to the Crystal Palace game to spot another poor piece of goalkeeping from the former Athletic Club man, as he was unable to keep out a Wilfried Zaha rocket, which was nowhere near the top corner and was hit from an astonishing 30 yards out. These two poor showings have added to a long list of disappointing displays from Kepa this season. 

Chelsea have shipped a remarkable 49 goals in just 35 league games this season – a far cry from the 15 conceded all season in 2004/05 with Petr Cech in goal –  ranking them 11th in the league for goals conceded. However, by the expected goals table from understat (a metric which is based off the analysis of 300,000 shots, which determines the likelihood of a goal being scored from a specific scenario), Chelsea should have only conceded 39 goals – 9 fewer than in reality and the 5th best record in the league this season (behind only the Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Manchester City). From this data we can infer that Kepa’s goalkeeping has been the deciding factor between us having one of the best defensive records in the league and having a very mediocre one. It might encourage Lampard to know that his side give up relatively few high probability goal scoring opportunities, but it must concern him that when they do, they are converted at an alarming rate.

Not everyone is convinced by the expected goal system. An example of an anomaly in the system is Manchester United youngster Mason Greenwood, who has netted 9 league goals from an expected total of 3 expected goals. However, over time these numbers tend to average out, with even supreme finishers like Greenwood bound to experience less prolific spells over a much longer time frame than his 980 league minutes to date. Kepa has had the whole season to bring his expected goals against to actual goals against ratio down and yet has failed to do so.

Whilst expected goals might not be an entirely trusted metric, a sure-fire way to test shot-stopping ability is save percentage. Although it does not discriminate between the quality of shots faced, over a long period of time it is likely to give a reasonable insight into a goalkeepers ability to keep the ball out of the back of their net. Whilst we have seen spectacular stops made by Kepa, including his low dive to keep out Ben Foster’s last minute headed attempt against Watford, as well as his triple save against Liverpool in the FA Cup in March, his overall shot-stopping has been horrific. In fact, the Spaniard has the worst save percentage of goalkeepers to have made more than 5 starts in the league this season. His horrendous save percentage of 56.5% is a whole 7.3% worse than the next weakest number 1 goalkeeper in the league, Jordan Pickford. This means that close to every other shot on target results in a goal for opposition attacks, a truly morbid statistic for Chelsea fans. 

One of Kepa’s supposed strengths when he was brought to the club was his distribution. With first Sarri and now Lampard keen to build play from the back, it was vital Chelsea had a goalkeeper in place who was comfortable with the ball at his feet. Last season, Kepa ranked joint second for Premier League goalkeepers for proportion of passes played short, his 61% putting him level with Alisson and behind only Ederson (76%). To give credit where credit is due, the Spaniard has completed an impressive 79.7% of his passes this season, only 5% behind Alisson and 7% behind Ederson. It might be useful to know that potential targets to replace Kepa in the future, Nick Pope and Dean Henderson, have completed only 36.2% and 36.4% of their passes respectively. Lampard is clearly keen to put his faith in a goalkeeper who wants the ball at their feet to help start attacks with precise, short passes as opposed to booting the ball long for a target man, and if Henderson or Pope were to come in it could take them a long time to adjust to this system and even approach Kepa’s ball playing ability. 

Being comfortable with the ball at your feet might be of growing importance to the modern goalkeeper, however, other attributes of a goalkeeper’s game are clearly more important, such as shot-stopping and ability to claim crosses. Kepa struggles with both. He is never going to be the most commanding presence in his area due to his lack of height: he stands at only 1.86m tall, 6cm shorter than compatriot David de Gea, 5cm shorter than Alisson and a couple of centimetres smaller than both Jan Oblak and Ederson. However, that is no excuse for his lack of ability to deal with any kind of cross. This chink in his armour exposed against West Ham in our 3-2 defeat a couple of weeks ago, as he raced out to try and claim a deep, in-swinging corner inside his 6-yard box, only to get stuck behind N’Golo Kanté and left stranded for Tomas Soucek to head home (having already harshly had a goal from a corner ruled out, with Kepa left hopelessly flapping for that attempt as well). 

Kepa was left in no man’s land after failing to collect a corner, leading to West Ham’s equaliser, photo credit: The Sun

His haplessness when it comes to claiming crosses is highlighted when it comes to set pieces. A league high 8.2% of the corners Chelsea concede result in goals, almost double the next worse rate of 4.8% by Man City (and is the second worst rate in Europe’s top 5 leagues). This horrendous record is not solely down to Kepa, as he hasn’t been helped out by Chelsea’s poor enforcement of zonal marking, or the bizarre decision making which has led to Kanté marking Van Dijk and Azpilicueta marking the 1.92m tall Soucek, who is 14cm taller than him. However, the lack of confidence Kepa has in his ability to claim corners delivered into his six yard box means he often doesn’t attempt to catch or punch the ball, leading to opposition strikers getting efforts on goal from point-blank range, which inevitably result in goals. 

Kepa’s failings between the sticks saw Lampard make the brave call of dropping the most expensive goalkeeper of all time to the bench, making the decision after his number one somehow let a low shot from Arsenal right back Hector Bellerin from outside the box dribble into his bottom corner in January. Willy Caballero, our 38 year old back-up keeper, was brought in in his place for five key fixtures, including the last 16 Champions League tie with Bayern Munich. The Argentinian veteran didn’t fare any better than his Spanish teammate (in fact his save percentage was a staggeringly low 53%) but Lampard made a point to the board: Kepa needed replacing. Solid performances before the season’s break, including back-to-back clean sheets against Liverpool and Everton, built up some good credit with fans, but that quickly dissipated, with the Blues conceding 10 goals in 6 games from just 21 shots on target following the restart!

Finally, an article about Kepa would not be complete without reference to his incredible antics in last season’s league cup final. With extra-time drawing to an end and a penalty shootout looming, Sarri decided to take off his cramp-stricken keeper in place of penalty saving specialist Caballero. However, the Spaniard refused to leave the pitch, prompting mass hysteria from the Chelsea bench and ultimately massively undermining the Sarri’s authority. To make matters worse, Kepa failed to keep out a very tame Sergio Agüero spot kick as Chelsea lost the shootout. The disrespect Kepa showed that day did nothing to enhance his reputation with Chelsea fans following a very difficult start to life in London, and matters have only regressed since. Things could have worked out so differently though, had our chief transfer target of the summer 2018 window been brought in.

Kepa’s refusal to be substituted off signalled the beginning of the end for Sarri at Chelsea , photo credit:

When Chelsea missed out on the signature of Alisson, and with Courtois forcing a move to Real Madrid, the club seemed to rush into buying a goalkeeper. Kepa was signed for a world record fee, with Chelsea triggering his enormous release clause and offered him a huge seven-year contract. At this stage selling Kepa would result in a massive loss on the initial investment in him, but according to, the Spaniard’s wages eat up £7,800,000 a year, and keeping him on the books for the remainder of his contract would cost a gigantic £39 million between now and 2025. The club have to come to terms with the fact that they have made a very costly mistake and try and move the hapless goalkeeper on. With potential interest from Valencia and Sevilla over a return to La Liga on an initial 2 year-long loan with an obligation to buy, Marina Granovskaia needs to once again work her magic to force as much money out of Kepa’s sale as she can. In the current pandemic-hit market, Chelsea would do well to recoup even a third of the gigantic sum they splashed out on Kepa, but at this point he needs to be sold and replaced. 

Lampard has given his number one plenty of time to make an impression, bringing him back following his spell on the bench, but he has yet to be rewarded by his keeper. Chelsea’s defensive woes have been our Achilles heel this season and Kepa has been central to the problem. If we are to mount a sustained title challenge over the next few seasons, we will need a far more accomplished custodian in goal, otherwise we will likely let our most promising side since the 2012 vintage drift into mediocrity. 

Written by Daniel New


Podcast: Crystal Palace Review & Sheffield Utd Preview!

In our seventeenth episode of The Chelsea Spot podcast Orlando (@0rland1nho) and Dan (Host – @danbarkzr) discuss the 3-2 victory over Crystal Palace thanks to a brilliant sliding tackle from Zouma, and also look ahead to our big game on the weekend against Sheffield United!

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Kepa: From hero to scapegoat

Since his move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 for a fee of £72m, Kepa Arrizabalaga hasn’t convinced the fans that he was worth the money. After a solid first season with Chelsea, he hasn’t been able to build on the strong performances of last season. So it’s no wonder that some of the fans are criticizing him. Nevertheless, many supporters are very harsh and seem to forget what he is capable of.

It’s legitimate to criticize a player but fans often scapegoat him and blame him if the results aren’t going the way they should. For example, Kepa was held responsible for the last-minute goal against Newcastle or the goal against Arsenal (Bellerin), where I personally think he had no chance of saving these shots. Of course, he has made mistakes and had weak games, but this is no reason to turn against him. It appears that this season he has lost the self-confidence that he once had and the defence doesn’t help him either, especially with the frequent rotation of personnel. Obviously you can’t ignore his mistakes and I think a new goalkeeper should compete with him in the summer.

Kepa had solid first season. (image source: CTV News)

However, he has often shown his class, I remember the fantastic performance against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League Semi Final, where he was the hero or the away game against Brighton in this season, where he saved us one point. But he lacks consistency and that’s why you can understand why he is so strongly criticized. So it was no surprise that Lampard put him on the bench for a few games. Against Liverpool (FA Cup) he got the chance to make his case to Lampard for the starting spot and he took the opportunity with a great performance. He has the potential, but with the inconsistent performances, it would be no surprise if Chelsea would strengthen the goalkeeper position in the summer. With Caballero probably leaving (contract expires in summer) Kepa would be the only experienced keeper at the club. A new goalkeeper could put pressure on Kepa which could lead to his performance improving and becoming more constant. It’s up to Kepa if he has any future at Chelsea.

However, Kepa doesn’t deserve to be treated badly by the fans or to be blame for every poor result in recent months. It simply is not fair when we celebrated him last season. Constructive criticism yes, but no scapegoating.