Chelsea had to endure a lot last season under Maurizio Sarri who steered his boys to a successful end to the season afterward, before leaving for another adventure in the Serie A with Juventus.
One of the bright lights of last season was Kepa Arrizabalaga even though it didn’t appear it would be so at the beginning.
Chelsea had just lost the towering Belgian shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid amid his antics, and it was scary as it was difficult pointing to any goalie of similar quality the club could go for at the time.
The Blues fans were already used to the towering figure of Thibaut Courtois between the sticks for the club and it was not an easy sight, seeing a younger looking and less imposing figure between the sticks for the Blues.
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However, Kepa Arrizabalaga was the ideal fit for the kind of football Maurizio Sarri wanted to impose at Chelsea and the Spain international shot-stopper ticked Sarri’s requirement boxes. Surprising to say, Thibaut Courtois would have struggled under the Italian.
Kepa was good with the ball at his feet under pressure and could distribute long passes to initiate an attack. He was also key to Chelsea’s new style of play which required the Blues to build from the back.
Despite his height, which folks sounded out as a cause for concern before and after his acquisition, the Spaniard came up with key saves to keep the Blues in games and played his part nicely in Chelsea’s Europa League triumph.
One low point, by the way, was his refusal to leave the pitch on Sarri’s demand to be replaced by Willy Caballero in the 2018/19 Carabao Cup final against Manchester City in Wembley when it was getting to penalties.
Chelsea eventually lost the game as his penalty save was not enough on the day.
Regardless, Kepa Arrizabalaga has been a joy to watch at Chelsea. His record fee for a goalkeeper can be seen as a worthwhile investment as he can only get better.
The young Spaniard is beginning to get the nod ahead of Da Gea in the Spain national team and this counts for something.
Kepa made sure that Chelsea didn’t miss Thibaut Courtois under any circumstance and he deserves every plaudit he has received thus far.