In pictures: Chelsea v Tottenham
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Chelsea icon Petr Cech has praised the ‘brilliant’ Kepa Arrizabalaga for his impressive recent form. The Spaniard has deputised for usual first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and has performed well.
Kepa has kept three clean sheets in his five appearances since Mendy travelled to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Chelsea paid £72million, a world-record for a goalkeeper, in the summer of 2018 but the 27-year-old struggled for form early in his Blues career.
His poor displays prompted Chelsea to sign Mendy in September 2020. The Senegalese shot-stopper has been outstanding.
However, Kepa has been handed a run of games with Mendy at AFCON.
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And now, former goalkeeper Cech has praised him for helping Thomas Tuchel’s side during a crunch January.
“I must touch on Kepa,” Cech, now technical director at Stamford Bridge, wrote on Chelsea’s website.
“He had to fill those big boots while Edou has been away, and he has been brilliant in all those games under even more scrutiny than usual.
“You need a strong team and every person ready to help.
“The goalkeeping group work so hard together to make sure they are all ready for when the moment comes, so Kepa deserves credit too.”
Kepa will be unfortunate if he loses his place to Mendy following the 29-year-old’s return from international duty.
But the Mendy has been in fine form himself and won the FIFA Best Goalkeeper award. Senegal are also into the quarter-final of AFCON.
“It’s another great achievement for him,” Cech said of Mendy.
“He is the first African goalkeeper to win the award, which is amazing, and testament to how well he has done since he came to our club.
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“He had an incredible year, winning two trophies, and it reflects his hard work and attitude. It’s great to see him getting recognition, and our other players who made it to the Team of the Year.
“The best thing is Edou can now add more trophies this year.
“He is at the Africa Cup of Nations now, Senegal are one of the favourites, so he could even win this trophy before he returns to us.
“And then we have the Club World Cup and the Carabao Cup final to look forward to in a few weeks. Hopefully for him he will be on the right end of three more trophies.”
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