Thomas Tuchel has explained why he decided to drop Edouard Mendy for Kepa Arrizabalaga for Chelsea’s Premier League clash against Newcastle United.
Blues record signing Kepa has played second fiddle to summer signing Mendy for most of the season, with former manager Frank Lampard declaring Mendy the club’s No. 1 goalkeeper.
New boss Tuchel promised £72m signing Kepa a ‘new start’ following his arrival at Stamford Bridge, however, and handed him a first Premier League start since October on Monday night as Chelsea hosted Newcastle.
Kepa kept a clean sheet in Thursday’s 1-0 FA Cup win at Barnsley and will make only his fifth Premier League start of the season against relegation-battlers Newcastle.
Explaining his decision, Tuchel said: ‘We need a strong Kepa in our squad.
‘He had a good game in the cup so we decided to give him another match to build up a little bit of rhythm and confidence and to trust him because he did very good.
‘At the same time it give Edouard the chance to recover, to mentally recover. It’s a demanding position so with one decision we have both advantages.’
Reacting to Kepa’s inclusion in Chelsea’s team to face Newcastle, Gary Neville told Sky Sports: ‘I thought we had seen the last of him.
‘Managers when they come in, particularly top managers, think they can improve players. I have to say he looked well short of a top keeper.’
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