One of the few players to come out of last season with any sort of credit was Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had himself a bit of a comeback redemption season — a remontada, if you will — after a couple years in the goalkeeping doghouse.
With Édouard Mendy’s form suffering a significant dip after his stellar 2021, and then our former number-one also picking up an injury, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper (still!) stepped in when he was needed, and played well enough to keep the job for pretty much the rest of the season. He was nominated several times for the Save of Month award in the Premier League, and would end up winning the Save of the Season award as well for his triple stop against Aston Villa.
Some significant gaps remain in Kepa’s game, and he’s unlikely to grow any taller at this point in his life, but the 28-year-old has swerved any and all chances of leaving Chelsea and it looks like we will be heading into the season with him as our number one — and without anyone new coming in to challenge him for that role (backup duties likely to be divided between Marcus Bettinelli and Gaga Slonina).
Mauricio Pochettio seems happy enough with this situation, at least publicly.
“We are so happy with him. He is showing great commitment in adapting to new demands from Toni, from the coaching staff, and the goalkeeping coach him and Hilario are working.
“We are so happy with him and he is a fantastic keeper.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Hayters TV
Toni is Toni Jiménez, our new goalkeeping coach who’s joined as part of Pochettino’s staff and is now working with Hilário and his crew. Jiménez, by some accounts, is a slightly more intense dude than the rest, so perhaps that will elicit a bit of an evolution and improvement from Kepa as well.
But you know, Kepa’s only keeping the posts warm for the eventual reign of Gaga, so it’s all good.