‘Absolutely fantastic’: TalkSPORT pundit claims Chelsea player had the best game of his career yesterday
Ally McCoist suggested Edouard Mendy would struggle to ever emulate his performance in the Carabao Cup final for Chelsea against Liverpool.
Speaking on talkSPORT, McCoist argued that the Blues brilliant goalkeeper may never match the display he put on under the Wembley arch yesterday.
Mendy the magician
Mendy rose to the challenge of such a grand occasion with equal splendour.
Having sat out all of the previous rounds, the Senegal international earned a recall from Thomas Tuchel.
The choice to drop Chelsea’s cup ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga certainly paid off.
Liverpool were thwarted on numerous occasions, often in spectacular fashion, by the Africa Cup of Nations winner.
His double denial in the first half ranks right up there with the finest finale saves of all time.
He parried Naby Keita’s shot into the pathway of Sadio Mane, but somehow managed to get a glove to the resulting effort.
Jurgen Klopp’s men continued to pile pressure on Mendy’s goal, yet repeatedly found themselves locked out of the fortress.
Andy Robertson and Joe Matip were both blocked out in quick succession, before Virgil Van Dijk had a header pushed away to safety.
Matip did manage to break this resilient resistance, yet VAR intervened to chalk off the goal.
Despite his heroics, Mendy made way for Kepa just before the penalty shoot-out, giving the Spaniard the chance to become the protagonist.
Instead, he turned out to be the villain.
After failing to deny any of Liverpool’s 11 spot-kicks, the 27-year-old then missed his effort by some margin.
Was Tuchel right to remove Mendy?
Perhaps rightly, many questioned Tuchel’s call to replace Mendy, who had kept Chelsea in the tie, once the game concluded, with McCoist leading such an inquest.
“Mendy, I don’t think will have another game like that in his life,” said the former Rangers striker.
“He was absolutely fantastic, he really was and I’m thinking to myself, about the decision to bring Kepa on, he’s (Tuchel) made that decision clearly because he feels he’s a better option at saving penalties than Mendy.
“I wouldn’t have made it just because of the fact Mendy was having one of those games and I said it at half-time, sometimes the writing is on the wall when you have a keeper playing like that.
“What if I’m a Liverpool player? I’m ecstatic at that decision. This is going to penalties; this guy effectively for 120 minutes has been unbeatable.
“There’s every chance, with the afternoon he’s having, he’s going to save a couple of penalty kicks. I think it gives the Liverpool players a boost.
“Not only did he (Kepa) not save any penalties, he missed the penalty that’s cost the cup. As decisions go, not only was it wrong, it was one of the poorest decisions that any coach will ever make.”
The option to switch Mendy for Kepa was not made on a whim.
Tuchel had traded the two goalies in the UEFA Super Cup final at the start of the season, with Kepa saving twice from 12-yards to hand Chelsea the trophy.
He had also come up trumps previously from two penalty shoot-outs in the run-up to the Carabao Cup showpiece event.
But maybe Thomas will think twice about tinkering with his team in this way again following Sunday’s defeat.