Chelsea got their season off to a winning start on Monday night courtesy of a 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium. A typically cool penalty from Jorginho, a stunner from Reece James and a deflected Kurt Zouma effort secured all three points for the Blues. A convincing win was, however, marred by a moment of familiarity: a mistake from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Kepa Arrizabalga Errors Continue for Chelsea
Kepa Arrizabalaga At Fault Again
With Chelsea 1-0 in front thanks to Jorginho’s spot-kick, Arrizabalaga misjudged his attempted dive to keep out Leandro Trossard’s 20-yard strike. Initially, it looked as if Trossard had hit a beauty into the far corner, leaving the keeper with no chance. However, replays show that the ball was actually fairly close to the Spaniard and the ball was within his reach. These are the kinds of mistakes he has often made. These are not howlers, but significant positional misjudgements that make his job as a goalkeeper far more difficult.
Per Sky Sports, Arrizabalaga has conceded the most goals from outside the box, with 19, since his Premier League debut two seasons ago. The 25-year-old also saved a paltry 54.6% of shots faced in the Premier League in 2019/20. Only Aston Villa’s Ørjan Nyland saved fewer. Evidently, as the saying goes, the stats don’t lie.
Lampard Must Replace Kepa Arrizabalaga if He Wants to Challenge Liverpool
Following the final whistle, Lampard stated to BBC Sport that Chelsea “definitely want to close that gap to Liverpool – we have to have intentions to be up there.” Although the world’s most expensive goalkeeper has been publicly backed by his manager, Lampard’s patience with Arrizabalaga must be wearing thin. If he is serious about challenging Liverpool and Manchester City for the Premier League title, then the Blues boss must find a replacement for the man who cost £72 million to bring to Stamford Bridge two summers ago.
Indeed, Lampard looks to have lined up a replacement already, with a deal for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy close to being completed. He demonstrated no sympathy for Arrizabalaga by replacing him with Willy Caballero for the final two games of last season. Giving him another lifeline to start the 2020/21 season has already resulted in another individual error. As a result, Lampard cannot afford to be sentimental. If Mendy does join Chelsea, he must be the main man in goal as soon as possible.
Summer Signings Show Early Promise at AMEX
All eyes were on new signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, with the pair making their Chelsea debuts against Brighton. Werner won the penalty that led to Chelsea’s opener and looked a threat in behind throughout. Havertz had a more subdued start to his Blues career but demonstrated flashes of quality with the promise of bigger and better things to come.
Having spent £250 million in the summer transfer window so far, Lampard has been heavily backed in the market. This investment makes a top-four finish a minimum requirement in west London, but Lampard has loftier ambitions. For all the acquisitions that Chelsea have made in an attempt to challenge the top two, they will struggle to do so until they adequately replace Kepa Arrizabalaga.