February 28, 2021

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Kepa vs Mendy: Thomas Tuchel explains the Chelsea goalkeeping situation

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Kepa Arrizabalaga has returned to the Chelsea first team (Picture: Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel has hailed Kepa Arrizabalaga’s performances and work on the training field after regaining his place in the Chelsea first team, but insists all three of his goalkeepers remain in his plans.

Kepa had fallen out of contention under previous manager Frank Lampard, which led to the signing of Edouard Mendy from Rennes in September.

The Senegal has generally impressed since arriving in the Premier League, but since the arrival of Tuchel in the dugout, he has lost his place to his Spanish teammate.

The former Athletic Bilbao stopper has kept back-to-back clean sheets since his return and the German manager is impressed with his attitude and displays.

‘I encouraged him to see it as another opportunity and to take it as a fresh start and to see the possibilities for him in it and this is what he did,’ Tuchel told a press conference on Friday.

‘So he earned his right to play, he earned his right to play another game. He kept two clean sheets and this is the best a goalkeepers can have for his confidence.

‘Of course we see that because everybody like Kepa loves to play, loves to have clean sheets.’

Goalkeeping coach Henrique Hilario, Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga in Chelsea training (Picture: Getty Images)

It sounds like Kepa is set to enjoy a run in the team after the perfect return to the team in wins over Barnsley in the FA Cup and Newcastle in the Premier League.

However, Tuchel insists both Mendy and Wily Caballero are still crucial parts of the squad and remain in contention.

‘It’s important for us that the group of goalkeepers is strong together, this is what I feel from them, all three, there’s a strong bond, even if they are competitors to each other,’ Tuchel continued.

‘They also have to be a team within a team and I feel that. We need all of them ready because games are coming now on the highest level every three or four days and we need everybody to be in shape.’

After the Newcastle display, Tuchel said he was giving Mendy a rest, but Kepa sounds like he will keep his spot as long as he is performing well.

‘We need a strong Kepa in our squad,’ said the manager. ‘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.’

The Blues go to Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon as they look to continue their fine run since Tuchel arrived.

His six games in charge have produced five wins and a draw and the side have risen to fourth in the table.

MORE : Thomas Tuchel provides fitness update on four players ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Southampton

MORE : Kepa Arrizabalaga speaks out on Chelsea future and opens up on his relationship with Frank Lampard

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