Football

Chelsea won’t win the league with Kepa Arrizabalaga: Gary Neville

Frank Lampard said he was happy with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's display during a 3-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion yesterday morning (Singapore time), but former Manchester United defender Gary Neville said he must get rid of the Spaniard if Chelsea are to challenge for the title.

Arrizabalaga became the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao for 80 million euros (S$129.2m) in 2018, but has struggled to justify that huge fee.

He was at fault for Brighton's equaliser, allowing Leandro Trossard's shot from outside the area to evade him, although Reece James' stunning goal 100 seconds later quickly took the focus off his error.

Jorginho scored the Blues' opener from the spot on 23 minutes with Kurt Zouma sealing the tie in the 66th minute.

Neville, working as a pundit for Sky Sports, was rather more ruthless in his assessment of Arrizabalaga than Lampard and suggested the Chelsea manager should be too.

"You won't win the league with a 'keeper who is letting goals in from outside his box, doesn't dominate his area, concedes from set-pieces, it's not going to happen," Neville said.

According to Opta, Arrizabalaga's error was the 19th time he has conceded a shot from outside the penalty area in the EPL since his arrival in 2018 - more than any other goalkeeper.

Lampard was asked whether he was in the hunt for a goalkeeper before the transfer window closes and his answer was hardly a ringing endorsement.

He said: "Not at the moment, but it's some weeks to go until the end of the window.

"Very happy with Kepa. With the shot, I'm not sure if he could have done better.

"If we bring in competition then it's for competition. That's the nature of Chelsea."

Neville suggested it was a must. "A few years ago, Liverpool were being prevented from being a championship-winning side by not having a 'keeper who could take them there, it's a really stark warning for Frank," he said.

"He knows what he needs, he doesn't like the 'keeper... Frank knows he could get the sack if he doesn't win the league in two or three years, he's spent £200m.

"Pep (Guardiola) did it, (Juergen) Klopp did it, Alex Ferguson did it. Every manager worth his salt needs to be harsh, ruthless."

Ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher agreed, highlighting Blues' pursuit of Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

He said: "Unfortunately for Kepa, some of his numbers are the worst in the league...

"I can't ever remember a team, going back to the mid-80s, who won the league with an average goalkeeper...

"If they bring Mendy in, is he at the level of the goalkeepers we are talking about?

"It's not just about being better than Kepa... It's got to be at the level of Ederson and Alisson." - REUTERS

Football