Some clean sheets require almost no effort or involvement from the goalkeeper. When the defense limits the opposition to just the odd shot or sporadic cross, for example, the goalkeeper might really have very little to do with the clean sheet itself.
Sunday’s clean sheet against Aston Villa was not one of those. No, this one required a full-time effort and then some from Kepa Arrizabalaga, who finished the game with a whopping seven sevens, six in the first-half alone. And some of those saves were absolutely ridiculous — the point-blank denial of Danny Ings comes to mind, or the triple-save that preceded it by a few minutes.
Head coach Graham Potter paid tribute to our starting goalkeeper, who seems to have fully and truly unseated Édouard Mendy now.
“[Kepa] is contributing to us with clean sheets and how we’re trying to play and the environment around the place. I’ve got to say all three goalkeepers we’ve had here have been really, really good in that regard — supporting each other, providing good competition and that picks everybody’s level up and Kepa has found a fantastic level today. Made some brilliant saves that have kept us in the game and allowed us to win the points so really pleased for him.”
-Graham Potter; source: Football.London
At the risk of speaking too soon or too much about something still a bit too fragile in existence, Kepa’s redemption has been one of the more unlikely developments of the season thus far, with the 28-year-old possibly in the best form of his Chelsea career at the moment ... though he himself might disagree on that.
He would however agree that in terms of perception (and certain statistics as well, I might add), things have never been better.
3.2 - Despite only playing in three matches, Kepa Arrizabalaga has prevented more goals than any other goalkeeper in the Premier League this season with his saves (3.2).— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 16, 2022
3.2 - Kepa
2.7 - Alisson
2.7 - Pickford
2.6 - Neto
2.2 - Pope
“Even in the Milan [game], it’s not just watching. You have to be ready mentally. The ball may be far but in one two seconds [it] can be in front of you. You have 90 minutes to concentrate and be ready [for] everything that can happen.
“Today [had] more saves [so] people can see it more but you are concentrating every game. [And] you train a lot just to be ready, then it’s like fluid (second nature) when you have to do it in the game. You have no time to think.”
“I don’t know [if this is my best form], I’ve had good games before also. I’m feeling very well now. I’m feeling comfortable, with confidence. Everything’s working, so let’s keep it going!”
-Kepa Arrizabalaga; source: Chelsea TV
Let us, indeed.