Football

Goalkeeper conundrum gives Chelsea manager Frank Lampard the blues

Chelsea manager wants to replace Arrizabalaga, but hefty price tag may prove to be stumbling block

While Chelsea's attack will likely be the least of worries for Frank Lampard next season - with the acquisition of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech - it is the backline that could give the manager sleepless nights.

Willy Caballero was preferred to Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal during their 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal yesterday morning (Singapore time), prompting further talk that the Spaniard is heading for the exit at Stamford Bridge.

Media reports have linked the Blues with Burnley's Nick Pope, whose 15 clean sheets this season helped the Clarets finish 10th in the recently concluded English Premier League season.

An offer of £50 million (S$89.9m) could be enough to convince Burnley to sell the 28-year-old Englishman, reported the Daily Star.

However, former Chelsea defender Glen Johnson believes Lampard is better off helping Kepa rediscover the form that prompted the Blues to pay a world-record fee of 80 million euros (S$129m) to sign him from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

Johnson said on Stadium Astro: "Imagine if you're the board and the manager comes to you and says, 'We want to buy a goalkeeper', 24 months after spending 80m on one.

"They're going to laugh at you. The business aspect, it doesn't work. It's in their interest to work with him and try to get him back to his best level."

Lampard, who conceded that Chelsea have been hampered by a lack of cutting edge and defensive mistakes all season, also accused them of complacency after they blew the lead in the FA Cup final at Wembley.

PERFECT START

The Blues made the perfect start as Christian Pulisic fired them ahead after just five minutes. But Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang equalised from the penalty spot before half-time and completed the comeback by lifting the ball over Caballero in the second half.

"We started well for 10 or 15 minutes, scored a goal and had chances. From then on, we can blame only ourselves in football terms," Lampard told the BBC.

"We decided to take control as in being complacent, let's try and play short passes like it is a bit of a stroll. A final can never be a stroll and we allowed them back into the game."

They weren't helped by the harsh second-half dismissal of midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who was sent off for the slightest touch on Granit Xhaka, but referee Anthony Taylor's decision could not be reviewed by VAR as it was a second bookable offence.

Injuries to Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta compounded matters. The duo won't be playing in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich on Sunday morning, with the Blues trailing 3-0.

Football