Frank Lampard made several bold calls in today’s 2-2 draw at Leicester, including a change at starting goalkeeper, with veteran backup Willy Caballero preferred ahead of under-fire Kepa Arrizabalaga.
It was Caballero’s first Premier League start of the season, and the first time he played back-to-back games (in all competitions) for Chelsea since Kepa’s signing.
While some of the constant criticisms aimed at Kepa have been overblown — especially given our oft-porous defending, which was on stark display several times today as well — and Lampard has never thrown the club’s record signing under the bus in public, the decision to start Caballero spoke volumes.
Afterwards, Caballero spoke as well.
“I am really happy to help the team to play today. I made a few saves but more important is the spirit of the team, we rescued one point here which is so difficult.”
It wasn’t a perfect performance from the 38-year-old by any means. He made a big save on Jamie Vardy in the first-half, but probably could’ve done better on the sequence for Leicester’s second goal, which didn’t make him look too smart. But at the end of the day, poor defending is poor defending, regardless of who’s between the sticks.
Lampard says Caballero is not to blame for Leicester's second: "The problem is the way we defend." On Kepa's omission: "No decision is easy. When it comes to a goalkeeper, you give it a little more thought and time." Praises Willy.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) February 1, 2020
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. Was this start a wake-up call to Kepa, to remind him that his position isn’t guaranteed? Or was this a more lasting change? We have two weeks to figure things out, which could lend credence to the first theory — a well-timed managerial decision to shake things up just the right amount without blowing things out of proportion.
One thing’s for sure, Willy will be ready regardless of the next decision.
“It is hard as a goalkeeper when we don’t have the opportunity to play, we have to keep the faith, keep training well and when the opportunity arrives you have to be ready for it. This is a lesson for every goalkeeper in the world, we must be ready at any time.”
-Willy Caballero; source: Metro
Over to you, Kepa.