After six straight games of twiddling his thumbs on the bench, Kepa Arrizabalaga was back between the sticks on Tuesday as Chelsea took on Liverpool in the FA Cup.
The (former?) Chelsea first-choice goalkeeper had a shaky first few moments, but then was basically flawless the rest of the way, backstopping Chelsea’s excellent win with a clean sheet and a whopping 5 saves — more saves than he had made in his previous three games combined and the most he’s made all season outside of the UEFA Super Cup (9), incidentally also against Liverpool.
It was a much-needed performance from the 25-year-old, for his own as well his teammates’, his fans’, and his manager’s confidence.
But was it enough to win back the starting job? Was the six-match sequence the longest wake-up call in history, or was this just a little blip of life with Lampard’s mind completely made up already?
As the boss tells it, he’s got some thinking to do, so perhaps it’s not the latter.
“Yeah it’s given me thoughts. He did very well, it’s exactly what I wanted from him and I understand that that’s not easy because everyone looks to the goalkeeper more than an outfield player.
”All eyes are on and I’ve mentioned in the weeks before that he’s been professional in how he’s handled it when has been out of the team. He came in and did exactly what I want so he’s given me good thinking.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Lampard had trotted out his usual line about attitudes and training a couple times before Tuesday, which made me wonder what he would do if Kepa actually pulled off a masterclass against Liverpool.
Kepa did just that. He rose to the challenge and he saved his destiny. Or has he?
Over to you, Frank.