Kepa Arrizabalaga

Frank Lampard
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Lampard ‘really proud’ of Chelsea win; Praises returning Kepa (video)

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was buzzing after his men knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup.

Willian and Ross Barkley scored and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga had a stunning three-save sequence in the win.

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“I’m really proud,” Lampard said, via the BBC. “Liverpool are the best team in the league and what they are doing is incredible. So for us to put in a performance like that, the effort, the quality was something special. We know we’ve got a long way to go but you have to celebrate those moments.”

The win was especially fun for Arrizabalaga, who had dropped behind Willy Caballero in the pecking order.

Lampard wouldn’t deny that Arrizabalaga stood out from his place between the sticks.

“I was really pleased for Kepa,” Lampard said. “It’s not easy because all players want to play and a goalkeeper gets scrutinized more than any other position and he made some good saves. He’s shown good character and he played well.”

Willian’s goal was the result of a big mistake from Adrian, but Barkley’s was a rocket.

The mercurial England attacker dribbled more than 50 yards before smashing the camera with a shot from the top of the box.

“Scoring against Liverpool is massive for me,” Barkley said. “As an Everton fan, it’s always a dream to score against them.”

Chelsea plays Everton this weekend.

FA Cup wrap: Liverpool loses again; Almiron drives Newcastle win

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Previously impermeable Liverpool allowed three goals for the second-straight match in bowing out of the FA Cup in the fifth round.

Chelsea beat the Premier League leaders 2-0 at Stamford Bridge as one of two FA Cup matches on Tuesday.

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Joining the Blues and Arsenal in the hat for the quarterfinal draw is Newcastle United. Sheffield United and Reading are in extra time at the Madejski Stadium, so check back for updates.

They don’t use a hat. They used to. Those were the days to be a haberdasher.

Chelsea 2-0 Liverpool

Liverpool has lost three in four in all competitions after an even match at Stamford Bridge.

Both sides turned to their depth after weekend disappointments, and Chelsea’s responded with a fine showing.

The opener came thanks to a series of Liverpool errors, Willian‘s hammered shot hitting Adrian square in the hands and finding its way over the line.

Kepa Arrizabalaga had a three-save sequence to keep it 1-0 at the break.

Barkley then seized on an unlucky Van Dijk flick and raced sixty yards past a sleepy Fabinho and cautious Joe Gomez to smash a rocket off the in-goal camera.

Pedro was denied 1v1 by Adrian before Olivier Giroud smashed off the bottom of the bar.

Liverpool brought on Roberto Firmino and James Milner in the 70th minute in a late bid to reverse the Reds’ fortunes. Mohamed Salah entered 10 minutes later, all to no avail.

Reading 1-1 Sheffield United (currently in extra time)

Hard-luck Blades striker David McGoldrick finally got his goal, the 32-year-old taking a Ben Osborn feed to make it 1-0. McGoldrick has an expected goal mark of more than seven in Premier League play, but had not found the net.

Reading leveled the score just before halftime through a George Puscas penalty. That was it for the goals in regulation.

West Brom 2-3 Newcastle United

Newcastle had several big chances early and were justly rewarded when Allan Saint-Maximin slipped Miguel Almiron into the box for a clinical finish past Baggies keeper Jonathan Bond.

Almiron made it a brace when Joelinton backheeled a pass toward the penalty spot for the Paraguayan’s sliding finish.

Valentino Lazaro got his first Newcastle goal within two minutes of restart thanks to a Bond error.

Longtime West Brom servant Matty Phillips pulled one back in the 74th minute off a Kenneth Zohore assist.

The Baggies took the slimmest of hopes from a pretty stoppage time connection from Kyle Edwards to Zohore, but a late penalty shout went unheard and the Championship-leading Baggies left the tournament.

 

Report: Chelsea want to sell Kepa

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Multiple reports claim that Kepa Arrizabalaga’s time at Chelsea could soon be up as Frank Lampard wants to offload the Spanish goalkeeper in the summer.

Kepa, 25, arrived at Chelsea in the summer of 2018 as a replacement for Thibaut Courtois who left for Real Madrid as the Blues paid Athletic Bilbao $90 million which was the release clause in his contract and it made him the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.

Lampard has criticized Kepa openly for shaky displays this season and he dropped him for the 2-2 draw at Leicester City on Saturday as Willy Caballero started.

The Daily Express claim that Lampard wants to sign Burnley and England goalkeeper Nick Pope or Crystal Palace’s Vicente Guaita to replace Kepa but other reports state the Chelsea hierarchy aren’t keen on selling Kepa this summer.

Does Kepa deserve to be dropped and then be sold?

He certainly has been hesitant for most of his first two seasons at Chelsea, struggles to command his box and Chelsea’s defensive struggles this season have been blamed on their central defenders but Kepa hasn’t received that much criticism.

Now, you hear this a lot about goalkeepers: “He’s a good shot-stopper.” Kepa is but that is his overwhelming strength and after he undermined Maurizio Sarri in the League Cup final penalty shootout last season, there’s a sense he doesn’t quite fit in at Chelsea and isn’t a fans favorite at all.

Often there are groans around Stamford Bridge when the ball is played back to Kepa during a game and he is calm with the ball at his feet but often gets defenders in front of him in trouble with short passes. Kepa is okay. He’s not a goalkeeper worth $85 million and we all knew that from the start as that was his release clause and Chelsea were forced to pay it as Courtois left.

Lampard is still upset about not being able to sign a player in January even though their transfer ban was reduced and he made two statements at Leicester on Saturday. First, he replaced Kepa with veteran goalkeeper Caballero who was at fault for Leicester’s second goal. Second, he didn’t bring on a striker to replace Tammy Abraham late in the game to highlight the fact he didn’t get the striker he wanted.

Chelsea’s main area for upgrades are in goal, at center back and up front. Their spine needs strengthening and quality over quantity is needed as Lampard has plenty of players of very similar ability.

Bournemouth beats punchless Chelsea to end losing streak

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Bournemouth snapped a five-match losing streak in a place that feels like home, toppling Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

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Chelsea’s attack was woeful and Bournemouth needed VAR help to get Dan Gosling‘s winner on the board.

The Blues fall for the fourth time in five league matches, and have seen their Top Four cushion slip to a maximum on five points.

Bournemouth gets some relief, rising 14th with 19 points.


Three things we learned

1. Bournemouth still loves the Bridge: Chelsea has now lost to Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge three times since 2015. The Cherries have back-to-back victories over the Blues for the first time ever. These are good things for Eddie Howe, and it was a much better show than the loss to Liverpool.

2. VAR helps Cherries to win: Gosling’s winner was a clever bit of football, the back-to-the-goal midfielder looping over Arrizabalaga. The linesman’s flag was up but Gosling had beaten the fray of people and an offside-appearing teammate had nothing to do with the play. A quality finish deserving of a winner.

3. Poor attack weakens Top Four cushion: Very poor from Chelsea’s attackers as a whole, with Willian the only players truly in-form on the day. Tammy Abraham was the best of an otherwise poor bunch, with Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount poor as starters and Callum Hudson-Odoi and Michy Batshuayi nearly irrelevant off the bench.

Frank Lampard hinted earlier this week that the club still needs to replace Eden Hazard. Transfer ban lifted, his men did little to convince him otherwise on Saturday.

Man of the Match: With respect to Simon Francis and Jefferson Lerma, the honor goes to Gosling for his creativity at outsmarting the Blues back line and beating Arrizabalaga.


Mason Mount’s sloppy touch betrayed a 26th minute Chelsea attack set up by Willian.

Christian Pulisic nearly nodded home at the back from a very tight angle in the 39th minute, one of few moments of danger for either side.

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Bournemouth regrouped at the break and Chelsea’s defenders had several strong moments in keeping shot attempts from reaching Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Pulisic led a charge into the right that led to a corner kick, and the Blues won another off a Willian shot.

Aaron Ramsdale made an incredible stop on Emerson‘s solid point-blank header of a Cesar Azpilicueta flick.

Gosling thought he’d scored in the 84th minute with a clever shot, but the offside flag was raised.

VAR fixed that, and the losing streak ended in London.

Chelsea draws Valencia despite Pulisic goal

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The Chelsea defense was shambolic, but Valencia’s finishing was worse, and it seemed that Christian Pulisic‘s goal and Kepa Arrizabalaga’s penalty save would be enough. Then Daniel Wass produced a moment of sheer brilliance good enough to keep the Spanish side’s Champions League hopes alive.

Valencia missed a host of big chances that should have won them the game, but in the 80th minute Wass arrived to deliver a goal worthy of points from acres away to secure a 2-2 draw.

Valencia were on the front foot the first 30 minutes, but they were left empty-handed as Maxi Gomez missed a blinding chance on 20 minutes that left the home fans stunned. A wonderful cross form Rodrigo on the break fell right to the feet of Gomez, but the Uruguayan completely whiffed while sliding in awkwardly at the far post, a surefire miss of the season candidate.

Gomez again was left begging on the half-hour mark as the cross from Dani Parejo was too far for Ferran Torres but reached Gomez at the far post where his effort was saved by a charging Kepa Arrizabalaga despite the goal gaping.

Chelsea began to push after that, and worked a pair of chances with N’Golo Kante firing over the bar and Tammy Abraham forcing an exceptional save from Man of the Match Jasper Cillessen who tipped his poke over the bar. Just as the Blues were getting going, Valencia finally found the back of the net. From the right flank Rodrigo delivered a fabulous lofted cross into the middle of the box and Carlos Soler volleyed it home past Arrizabalaga.

The Blues responded right away, with Mateo Kovacic delivering a speculative turn-and-shoot from the top of the box that squirted inside the left post past a diving Cillessen for the Croatian’s first Chelsea goal. He nearly had a second before halftime as he rifled in a silky Pulisic delivery from the far post and Cillessen saved. Chelsea suffered a blow just before the break as Tammy Abraham landed awkwardly and was in serious pain, holding his left hip. Abraham was replaced by Michy Batshuayi upon the second-half restart.

Just moments after the whistle blew, Pulisic put Chelsea in front 2-1 as he nodded home Kurt Zouma‘s header with a toe poke. It was initially ruled out for offside, but after an extremely long VAR review, the goal was given as technology proved Pulisic was just level with the defender. Ezequiel Garay was booked for dissent after the goal was given, appearing to argue that he was fouled by Zouma on the aerial challenge.

Yet again the Chelsea defense was let off as Valencia should have scored, but Torres missed over the goal with a chip attempt as the Blues scrambled and Arrizabalaga was out of his net. Chelsea again allowed Valencia through as Jorginho was harshly whistled for a penalty in a clash with Jose Gaya, but after VAR allowed the call to stand, Arrizabalaga made a spectacular save to maintain the lead.

The game remained wide open as Chelsea nearly doubled the lead through Willian whose feed from Batshuayi left him alone with a charging Cillessen who saved well. Valencia began to pour on the pressure, and ultimately it bore fruit. A feed to the right by Parejo was dummied and left to Wass whose cross (it was absolutely a cross) stunningly found the top corner and into the back of the net off the woodwork.

Chelsea nearly found a winner thanks to a massive deflection on a Batshuayi shot, but Cillessen somehow managed to make a kick save despite already having gone to ground to meet the initial hit. For good measure, Valencia missed a sure winner at the death, with Rodrigo mishitting at the far post from a Gaya cross along the face of goal.

The two points lost for Chelsea were valuable ones in a crowded Group H, with the trio of Chelsea, Valencia, and Ajax all coming into the day level on seven points. With the Blues still to play Lille while Valencia has to take on Ajax, they will still believe to be holding the upper hand, but it will all come down to the final match day.