Chelsea may have lost to Aston Villa yesterday, but once the final whistle blew and all the other results elsewhere were tallied up as well, that didn’t matter so much anymore. Chelsea were secure in fourth to finish the season: job done.
A more significant impact from the game however could be Édouard Mendy’s status. The summer signing who quickly solidified the goalkeeping position after two years of constant Kepa worries, hurt himself while trying to make the save on Aston Villa’s opening goal.
Former Chelsea prospect Bertrand Traoré rather miscued his shot on the stroke of half-time, but the football gods smiled on him with a kind bounce and spin off the turf, which looped the ball into the top corner. Mendy came up short — a rare sight indeed — and more problematically, fell into the side-netting by way of the goalpost. He was unable to continue for the second half, with Kepa replacing him.
Injuries always take some time to assess properly, but the initial prognosis on Mendy didn’t sound too promising.
“He feels a big pain in his ribs. We will have an update tomorrow with what’s going on. We will see if it is possible and if it is possible, we will push to do everything so he is in goal on Saturday.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
For better or worse, Tuchel has kept Kepa fairly involved even as Mendy has been the clear first-choice, and that might pay off next weekend should Mendy be unable to recover from what sounds like a non-insignificant case of bruised ribs (and hopefully just bruised and not broken).
And so, we wait. Anxiously. Kepa’s done alright under Tuchel, but his limitations in terms of physique and technique make him a less secure option than Mendy...
The discourse around #Kepa’s role in the #FACupFinal goal reminded me of this thread I wrote last year highlighting why he struggles with long range shots.— John Harrison (@Jhdharrison1) May 16, 2021
It’s clearly a wonderful strike & it would’ve been a top save but #Kepa’s footwork & lack of a power step killed him again. https://t.co/qFtH2rHqgL