Kepa Arrizabalaga is not Chelsea problem

Chelsea are facing a huge problem at the moment with some misfiring players and the new players have not done anything to alleviate the problem. They don’t look like the solution.


The just concluded 2019-20 season was all about Spanish international Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Spaniard was accused for any ball that shakes the net. Many saw him as Chelsea weakness and should be sold or relegated to the bench. Frank Lampard stood by him and charged him to turn things around.

The 2020-21 season is on now and the Kepa story is back again. The loss against Liverpool was attributed to him with Chelsea fans overlooking Christensen red and Jorginho penalty miss which would have provided some morale for the team.

Lampard dropped him for their next game against West Brom and Chelsea were down by 3 goals in first half. The truth is they were in front in the first 27 minutes of the match. There is no Kepa this time around as second choice Willy Caballero was in goal. Who is to be blamed? Are we going to blame Marcus Alonso, Thiago Silva, or we blame Kepa again. The question on money Chelsea fans lips is what is the problem?

The problem wrong with Chelsea can be put into 2

The defense

Chelsea defense is nothing to write home about. I have said it times without number since last season that Chelsea defense is zero. The defense is shaky with lot of loopholes to exploit. Kepa has his own fault but we have to blame the defenders too. A look at Westbrom first goal shows Marcus Alonso preferring to gift the opponent the header instead of a throw-in. The resulting opponent pass turned into a goal thanks to some poor closing down by Reece James. Fine, a defender made an error pass, you close the other man down quick not covering thereby blocking the goal keeper view. A number of Chelsea fans would have called for Kepa head if he was the one that conceded that goal.

The second goal came from a Thiago Silva error who preferred to sleep on the ball and gift Callum Robinson the ball. Thiago Silva is 36 and I don’t know why Chelsea signed him. This man is past his best and will definitely struggle in the premier league. The pace is not there again and you need that when you face the likes of Adama Traore, Liverpool front line, Arsenal frontline, and others. Lampard decision to start him and gift him the captain band shows is disheartening. Take a look at the backline again and look at the space between Christensen and Thiago Silva. The space is too much for two center backs that lack pace.

Chelsea best defense always has Fikayo Tomori but Lampard decided to freeze the Anglo-Nigerian out of his first eleven. Tomori brings calm and speed to the defense. This is what they have been missing. Zouma and Rudiger have the speed but lack the calmness. There is Azpilicueta who’s past his prime and Christensen who look to be out of sorts and should be loaned or sold.

When your defense can’t do their basic job thereby leaving the keeper at the mercy of the opponents, you get error strewn performance from any keeper you use. Bernd Leno at Arsenal under Unai Emery and Emiliano Martinez under Arteta is a case study. Martinez flourished under Arteta compared to Leno who faced 30+ shots in almost every match.

Sort out your defense and see Kepa Arrizabalaga succeed. The signing of new boy Edouard Mendy won’t solve anything if Lampard doesn’t do the right thing.

Chelsea style of play

Chelsea is synonymous with defending. That’s what gave them success under Mourinho in both first and second stint and under Antonio Conte. That what was gave them their only UEFA Champions League trophy. The style is changing now with Sarri last 2 seasons and Lampard.

Sarri introduced Sarriball and brought fellow Italian Jorginho to switch from a defensive style to more attacking formation. Lampard followed suit and it’s entirely new to a club that relies heavily on keeping things tight at the back. In the past, they would have lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Kante helping the defense, running after the opponents and winning the ball back. It is all about playing from the back now with the defenders as ball playing defenders. This can’t work when you don’t have a new set of defenders. You still have the same defenders that relies on bullying, parking the bus, and blocking shots. You are now asking them to play more expansively.

The style of play has really affected Chelsea defense as it leaves them open at the back. Lampard need to get new set of defenders and dispose the likes of Rudiger, Christensen, and Alonso if he want to succeed.

The problem is not with Kepa Arrizabalaga but with Chelsea defenders and their style of play.

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