Before Monday night’s game against Burnley, Kepa Arrizabalaga spoke of the importance of three points in the must-win affair.
That part clearly did not go to plan.
Kepa was beaten twice, once by a precise volley from the edge of the box after a corner, and once by a point-black effort after another set piece routine. Kepa may not be the most commanding goalkeeper in the penalty area, but there was little he could’ve done against either.
And that’s been a consistent trend throughout the season for the 24-year-old, who remains the world’s most expensive goalkeeper ever — through the way the market’s trending, the next big goalkeeper signing just might eclipse the €80m Chelsea spent. He’s been solid-to-spectacular in between the posts and consistently reliable with the ball at his feet. Near-perfect for the requirements of modern football and a perfect base on which to build to future legendary status.
“In general I’m very happy with my personal performance. It’s been a big change for me, it’s a new league, new team, new manager, so as a player that’s all new. But slowly I’ve been adapting to my new surroundings and I think you can see things are getting positive. If it continues then hopefully I’ll get better with each day.”
The one obvious blip on the season is what the media lovingly termed “The Mutiny”, and what Chelsea tried to explain away as “The Misunderstanding” — the truth, as ever, is probably somewhere in-between — but like Kepa’s transfer fee, the consternation about disobeying Sarri’s substitution order has faded into the background. There are much, much bigger issues at the club, with the squad, with the results, and with the tactics and approach than that little sideshow.
Last night’s 2-2 draw is just the latest frustrating disappointment to add to that.
“What we’ve been working for all season [has been] to qualify for the Champions League. We know it’s not going to be easy. We also have another objective, which is the Europa League, so we have another opportunity.”
“I think we’ve had a good season. At the start we had a good feeling, and then perhaps we weren’t very consistent.”
“There have been a number of highs and lows throughout the season, which has perhaps affected our fight to get in the Champions League, so it’s not been easy. We’ve had some good games also during the season and I think the ideas and the concept the manager’s wanted to implement, we’ve taken them on well and we’re happy and united as players in achieving our objectives.”
-Kepa Arrizabalaga; source: Chelsea FC
Three games left in the Premier League. At least two left in the Europa League. The learning continues, hopefully with the results to match.