As the top four race heats up heading into the closing stages of the Premier League season, Chelsea’s defensive woes are threatening their chances of a place in the Champions League next season.
Chelsea’s last Premier League game saw them draw 2-2 with Leicester at the King Power Stadium, now cementing three games without a victory for the dark blue.
However, Frank Lampard’s starting line-up was perhaps one of the main talking points in the last week, having sensationally dropped shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga from the starting 11.
The move saw Argentine Willy Caballero slot into the vacant goalkeeping position and he was lacklustre in just his sixth appearance since 2017 for the club.
Having been caught out of position for Ben Chilwell’s goal to make it 2-1 to Leicester, Caballero’s performance will certainly not be one to make the highlight reel for the 38-year-old.
Goalkeeping – perhaps the most vital position in football – has now placed Chelsea in a state of discomfort given the poor season Arrizabalaga has displayed. Statistics show he is the at the bottom of save percentage in the league, having only kept out 56 per cent of shots faced and enjoyed just five clean sheets from 24 league games.
On the 8 August, 2018 Spanish club Athletic Bilbao announced the departure of Arrizabalaga for an estimated £71 (A$137) million, making him the most expensive goalkeeper at the time.
Transfers that feature high figures such as this bring a sense of performance, pressure and responsibility. This season it seems Arrizabalaga has failed to meet expectations and now Chelsea have a dire situation on their hands.
The £71 million player has failed to meet expectations this season. Let’s not forget the incredible turn of events that saw him refuse to be substituted.
Furthermore, Lampard in defence of his goalkeeper added: “I am not affected by criticism from the outside as much. I am aware of it, not affected by it. It is what I want for the team and I think with Kepa he knows, he’ll be honest that there have been some mistakes that have cost us goals.”
Reports have claimed Lampard is looking to offload Arrizabalaga come the end of the season and have Ajax’s Andre Onana and Burnley’s Nick Pope in the crosshairs as potential replacements.
Given the hefty transfer price Chelsea payed for the Spaniard, the release will certainly be seen as a failure – and not profitable – for Chelsea. Whether or not additional funds from Roman Abramovich are to be introduced to fix the woes remains unknown.
Arrizabalaga’s confidence will be rock bottom and with Willy Caballero’s effort last week, it seems Arrizabalaga could potentially see himself back in the starting line-up to face Manchester United on Monday, hoping for improvement.