'Excellent': Joe Cole noticed what Kepa kept doing just before Villarreal players were taking penalties

Joe Cole said Kepa Arrizabalaga used every small trick available to hand Chelsea the Super Cup victory via a penalty shootout.

Speaking on BT Sport after the result yesterday, Cole explained how Kepa gained a mental advantage over the Villarreal players to ensure he came out on top.

The Spaniard saved two spot-kicks to earn his side European glory for the second time this year.

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He replaced Edouard Mendy deep into extra time by Thomas Tuchel, which turned out to be a tactical masterstroke on his behalf.

Clever Kepa

Once the villain in a Carabao Cup shootout, Kepa became Chelsea’s hero last night.

But Cole revealed that his superpowers were not simply blessed upon him, rather gained through clever mind games and silent strategies.

“When the Villarreal player got the ball, Kepa had the ball in his hand and he’s given it to them,” said the former Blues winger.  

“Overstepped the mark at times and got booked, but got in their face, maybe delayed it, dropped the ball down.

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“All these little psychological things and the minute details in a shootout. Kepa was excellent at it, he was on point with everything.

“He looked in charge, he looked in control of the whole situation Kepa when he was dealing with it.”

Awesome Arrizabalaga

There have been few occasions of genuine glory during the goalkeeper’s Chelsea career.

But Wednesday evening was arguably his best for the Blues.

It was his moment in the spotlight and he duly basked in the warmth of his teammates after he won the tie.

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He was swarmed by a sea of blue jerseys following his decisive denial, a delicately poignant scene by all accounts.

“That doesn’t happen if you’re not a popular member of the squad,” admitted Cole.

“Everyone to their man: the masseurs, the doctors, the kitman, were over there celebrating with him.”

Although Kepa will likely play back-up to Mendy for the rest of the campaign, at least his value has now been proven.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.