Chris Sutton has questioned Frank Lampard’s decision to start Kepa Arrizabalaga against Luton Town in the FA Cup last weekend.
In his column for the Daily Mail, the former Chelsea forward was frustrated by the fact clubs felt the need to rest their first-choice goalkeepers in cup competitions.
The article focused around Mikel Arteta’s ill-advised choice in resting many key personnel as Arsenal crashed out to Southampton in the fourth round.
“Speaking of resting players, why is it that clubs drop their first-choice goalkeepers for the FA Cup?”, quizzed Sutton. “This is something I’ve always found baffling.”
“Chelsea played Kepa Arrizabalaga on Sunday instead of Edouard Mendy, and look what happened. He lets a tame shot slip beyond him.”
Kepa was introduced instead of Mendy for what was only his sixth appearance of the season having lost his place as Chelsea’s no.1 to the Senegalese international.
He won’t have done himself any favours after conceding a soft goal that allowed Luton back into the game.
Chelsea did eventually run out 3-1 winners and actually owed Kepa for keeping them ahead with the score at 2-1.
His smart save to deny Harry Cornick in the second half ensured the Blues stayed in front and allowed them to push on for a third.
This was not enough to protect the 26-year-old from the wolf pack that typically follows him wherever he goes.
Another ex-Chelsea striker was heavily critical of the Spaniards’ unfortunate error.
“If you look at the other goalkeepers in the league at the top end, they would save this,” said Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink whilst covering the match for BBC Sport (via the Metro) “That’s where he’s at and it’s a problem.”
Lampard will unlikely use Kepa again until their next FA Cup fixture which is away to Barnsley on the 10th of February.
The Chelsea Chronicle View
I disagree to an extent with Sutton that teams shouldn’t rest their best ‘keeper.
Occasions like the FA Cup or League Cup are usually their only opportunities to impress the manager and prove they are a suitable understudy.
As it goes, Kepa probably won’t be regaining his spot anytime soon, however, it’s good for squad harmony to have this rotation. He’s a £72m (BBC Sport) player, he cannot be frozen out forever.