As Liverpool continue to show they have so many ways to win, Kepa Arrizabalaga shows he has so many ways to mess up.
It was this time a blocked pass, that sealed a 2-0 defeat for Chelsea. The only statement in this much-hyped match came from the champions, and especially from the brilliant Sadio Mane, who scored twice. It was his alertness and aggression that so unsettled Kepa for the key moment. Thiago Alcantara also offered a polished debut from the bench, Liverpool ultimately going ahead after he came on and Andreas Christensen went off with a red card. Jurgen Klopp’s side thereafter had victory in their hands. Kepa rarely had the ball in his hands.
It’s difficult at this point not to have some sympathy for the young Spaniard. Alongside that, it’s impossible to have any confidence in him. The great problem is that the error for the second goal wasn’t even in his only one for the game. Earlier on at 0-0, he’d rashly rushed out to try and close down Mohamed Salah, showing no command of his area, but almost showing Liverpool the way to goal. It might have been 1-0 then.
The consolation for Frank Lampard is not just that one of the primary issues with this team is obvious, but that they already have a solution in Edouard Mendy.
As to whether you can have some sympathy for the Chelsea boss in the circumstances, that’s a little harder to say.
The goalkeeping position is one that evidently requires complete decisiveness from the manager. If a player is suffering a poor run of form and clearly doubting his confidence, his boss can inadvertently feed into that. And if he so definitively knows the manager doesn’t fancy him, he’s obviously unlikely to be at his most assured – and that in a game where he will face more work than most.
Yet here was Lampard starting a goalkeeper he didn’t deem good enough for the FA Cup final, and who he has already been in the process of replacing. Is it any wonder Kepa was even more off than usual? Why not start Willy Caballero?
The player at the other end of the pitch only emphasised this. Jurgen Klopp faced a similar issue with Loris Karius, only to act decisively and authoritatively by going out and getting the goalkeeper that was just perfect for him. Liverpool haven’t looked back.
As if to only emphasise the point, Alisson’s assertiveness ultimately unnerved Jorginho, as he finally had that penalty routine rumbled.
It is actually surprising that hadn’t happened before this, especially when it’s not like the Italian is sticking it in the corner. It was only a matter of time until a canny goalkeeper was going to use it against him.
That meant there was no late push from Chelsea. It was always going to be difficult with 10 men anyway.
The irony of Christensen’s red card was that it came when Chelsea had themselves pushed up, the centre-half almost rugby tackling Mane when through. Lampard had otherwise played a much more cautious game, which was more difficult to fault.
It made sense against a side as good on the front foot as Liverpool, and especially when he was missing four of his new signings and…
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