It is quite possible that we are at the end of Kepa’s reign between the Chelsea goalposts. Édouard Mendy’s signature is “imminent” (although this has been the case for a while now), and at least in our next game, against Barnsley in the League Cup on Wednesday, we already know that Willy Caballero will get the start. But after mistakes on 2 of the 3 goals we’ve conceded so far this season, Kepa’s surely fallen through the already thin ice he was skating on.
At the end of last season, incidentally also in a game against Liverpool, social media got plenty of enjoyment out of a video showing Chelsea players supposedly berating Kepa for one of his numerous mistakes, but whether that’s what was actually happening or not, in public, Kepa retains the support of his teammates (and his manager) — which is to be expected. Nothing can be gained from throwing him under the bus, especially as he himself knows his errors (perhaps all too well, even, leading to his visible crisis of confidence).
Here’s Mason Mount to put those thoughts into words.
“We know that Kepa is an experienced goalkeeper, he will look at it and he knows where he needs to look at it and improve but we are all going to be behind him.
“We all make mistakes, I make mistakes, I give the ball away but it’s just in their half and I can give the ball away and it’s different when it’s the back four, but as I said, we are all behind him, we all support him and it doesn’t matter because now we need to look towards the next game now.”
Mount correct of course, though the nature of Kepa’s job is that any error he makes is probably a fatal one as far as conceding goals goes. And given Chelsea’s stated ambitions this season and going forward, we cannot afford such errors — ever, let alone regularly.
As much as we should sympathize with Kepa the actual human being, and maybe lay off the constant deluge of criticism for a minute (looking at your, wider football media, too), the harsh reality is that he’s not good enough for us and he hasn’t been for a while now. He might be in the future — he’s under contract for five more years; lots of time left! — but it’s rare for a player roasting in the focused spotlight of the football magnifying glass to easily recover without some sort of drastic change in his environment.
But that’s a question for a future transfer window. For now, Kepa’s one of (soon-to-be) three goalkeepers at the club, and he’s going to be with the team for at least this season. He may not play, and he probably shouldn’t for at least a little while, but he’s here with us and his teammates will have his back — while continuing to improve elsewhere on the pitch as well.
“The game could have been different but it is what is. We look at the game and we know where we can improve. [...] When we get our full rhythm, I think we’ll be firing and we’ll be scoring goals and hopefully get as many three points as we can.
“For me, if I look at the team we want to do better. We don’t want to accept fourth place; we want to push to the top. I think we can do that with the team that we’ve got, as I said. We just need to keep getting better and better and hopefully, we can do that.”
-Mason Mount; source: Goal
So say we all.