Kepa Arrizabalaga

Premier League social media wrap: Liverpool, Leicester return

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Premier League sides are back training, albeit in small groups, and there are definitely some good vibes to be had in seeing the fellas on the pitch.

For this stroll around Premier League social media, we’ll start with one of two top teams who returned for their first days Wednesday: Liverpool and Manchester United.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

We’ll focus on Anfield, having learned a bit about United’s day from Harry Maguire.

Liverpool’s Andy Robertson has proven a few things over the coronavirus pause.

One is that he’s clearly aware of his role in the greater community, and that he feels a duty to help those in need.

Another, and we know this already, is that he loves banter.

That was on show when the left back posted a photo of him leaping for a ball, labeling it a wayward pass from teammate Joe Gomez.

We’ll let that headline a few tweets from the impending Premier League champions, including some wild hair to continue Chelsea’s trend from Tuesday.

 

Another top three side, Leicester City, is back at it as well.

James Maddison brought a little levity to the occasion by throwing some love to Ben Chilwell.. from a safe distance of course.

Let’s stay in Leicester for an example of the Tweet phrase that was so prevalent amongst PL player it might as well have been a hashtag.

How did it feel to be back? Good or great is the only answer.

We’ve chosen Kasper Schmeichel’s Tweet because his hair has reached ponytail length.

News away from the training pitch includes Chelsea backstop Kepa Arrizabalaga.

The Athletic Bilbao product saluted former teammate and Basque living legend Aritz Aduriz on retiring from his legendary playing career.

Premier League social media wrap: Returning players pumped, others wait

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We know it’s far from a universal vibe, but a large number of Premier League players were quite happy to be arriving to and playing on the training pitches of England on Tuesday.

The coronavirus pause is not over, but players are now allowed to train in small groups in the PL.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It was good to see Dele Alli smiling and looking healthy after he was robbed and punched last week.

American fans might’ve been distracted by the sight of a smiling and reportedly healthy Christian Pulisic at Chelsea training, but look closer.

Kepa Arrizabalaga’s hair is unusually long, as is N’Golo Kante (because we’re not used to seeing him with much at all).

Toni Rudiger was also pumped to be back, and his post allowed us to catch influential but injury-hampered Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Let’s hope the midfielder is ready to return to the pitch and make his first appearance since tearing his Achilles tendon in a friendly against New England that cost him an Europa League Final appearance.

Spurs loanee Kyle Walker-Peters was back training with Southampton, though he had a sort of era-appropriate PPE covering his face (and a coach in the background going with the mask).

Not all of Newcastle United and Man City players aren’t back yet, and there’s some serious FOMO from a few of their players.

Up north, it’s goalkeeper Martin Dubravka getting fully kitted and fitted… at home.

And Man City minute-eater Fernandinho hasn’t yet returned, but he’s ready…

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

Frank Lampard
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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.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

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.