Kepa Arrizabalaga has come a long way since he was described as a “face-ache” following an error that cost Chelsea in a penalty shoot out against Arsenal in March last year. Since that time, he has conceded just four goals in his last 19 Premier League games, and he has made just two errors in his last five matches, including a penalty save from Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final victory over Liverpool.
Chelsea’s 4th European Super Cup trophy was well-earned, and there’s no doubt that the weight of the Europa League now lessens. Chelsea’s penalty shoot-out triumph is another achievement for Eden Hazard, whose goal in the first half led to his side’s win. The Belgian playmaker was booed by the Barcelona fans in the Nou Camp, but his performance saw him receive the game’s top player award.
Chelsea became the first ever London side to win the Super Cup, beating Barcelona 4-2. While it wasn’t an especially memorable game, it was the first of many to come for the Blues who had come into the match as underdogs.. Read more about kepa arrizabalaga and let us know what you think.
Kepa has had a tough few years and was left out of Spain’s Euro 2020 team this summer.
With penalties approaching in a big cup final, Kepa Arrizabalaga and a late replacement. Does this ring a bell?
The £71m Spaniard refused to come out for Willy Caballero late in injury time in the 2019 Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, an event that has so far been the defining highlight of his tenure at Stamford Bridge.
On that occasion, he saved one penalty, but they still lost, and he was punished by the club for violating manager Maurizio Sarri’s orders.
The roles were flipped on Wednesday, with Kepa being the one to take the field. It was the Uefa Super Cup versus Villarreal in Belfast this time, and the game ended 1-1 when Gerard Moreno equalized Hakim Ziyech’s opening. And it all came to a glorious conclusion this time.
It also helped that the player he replaced, Edouard Mendy, who played well, was more open to the concept.
During the shootout, Kepa was extremely aggressive, getting in opponents’ faces and doing some theatrics on the goalline. He was successful, as he saved two penalties, one from Aissa Mandi and the other from Raul Albiol.
He was swarmed by ecstatic teammates who wanted to share the joy with him after he saved Albiol’s kick.
After the game, manager Thomas Tuchel stated that the concept had been in the works since February, when his team defeated Manchester City in the Champions League final.
He told BT Sport, “It wasn’t spontaneous.” “After the first cup game against Barnsley, we discussed it with the goalkeepers.”
“Kepa has the highest percentage of penalty saves. The data was shown to me by the data analysts and goalkeeping instructors. We warned the athletes that this might happen if they played in knockout games.”
Mendy was polite as he exited the field, hugging Kepa and said in a post-match interview with Kepa that he knew it would happen.
Kepa entered the game as a 119th-minute replacement, save two penalties and receiving a yellow card.
“It’s incredible how Edouard absorbed it,” Tuchel remarked.
“He lacks the self-confidence to stay on the field. He was delighted to accept this for the team.”
“It’s not a normal scenario, but we came to penalties after Edouard performed a great performance,” Kepa, who lost his first-team spot to Mendy last season, said. We finally won, and we are overjoyed.
“I was prepared since I anticipated something like this might happen. I attempted to emotionally and physically prepare myself.”
“I’m pleased because we won,” Mendy said, “and I’ve known since last year that if Kepa came on the field, he would assist the team.”
Tuchel, Kepa, and Mendy pleased the BT Sport commentators.
Joe Cole, a former Chelsea midfielder, said: “Thomas Tuchel is unstoppable. Everything he does is effective. We had our doubts due of Mendy’s performance, but Kepa was outstanding in the shootout.”
Eni Aluko, a former Chelsea striker, added: “This is the same Kepa that no one loved a few years ago. He didn’t seem to be in excellent shape. He’s come a long way and is now a well-liked part of the team.”
“Kepa has been under tremendous scrutiny since he arrived to the club,” ex-England defender Rio Ferdinand remarked. You witnessed what he meant to this team following his rescue. They were all swarming around him.
“Obviously Tuchel knew something we didn’t because he was right up in the face of the Villarreal players before every penalty was taken. He has something about him. He has personality and character.”
After a European final shootout against Villarreal this year, Kepa isn’t the first Spanish goalkeeper to create headlines for an English team. In an exciting Europa League conclusion in May, David de Gea missed a penalty kick as the Yellow Submarine defeated Manchester United.
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