Kepa Arrizabalaga

Liverpool hangs on for win over wasteful Chelsea

Leave a comment

Liverpool built a two-goal lead, then rode its luck to keep its perfect season alive.

Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold scored first half goals as the Reds beat Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

N’Golo Kante scored a sensational goal to bring the Blues within one, but Chelsea couldn’t finish several terrific opportunities to tie the match.

Now 6-0, the Reds restored their five-point lead over second place Man City, while the Blues sit 12th with eight points.


The main takeaways

1. Alexander-Arnold at both ends: TAA’s exceptional work in the attacking third is nothing new, and it says something that it comes as little surprise when he produces something sublime like the opening goal off a set piece, but Alexander-Arnold’s goal line clearance in the 68th minute adding some icing to the cake as Chelsea looked pull a goal back from its 2-0 deficit. A fine performance from the right back.

2. Liverpool gets big let-off: Liverpool’s defending and passing was poor over the final 30 minutes or so, and if the Reds have something resembling a weakness it is their overall back line when the opposition is in the Liverpool half. Michy Batshuayi and Mason Mount should’ve both troubled Adrian in the latter stages, but were let off the hook by a Chelsea team with only one sub available to it after the break. More on that below.

3. Bats, not the Yank: Frank Lampard opted against starting Christian Pulisic again on Sunday, and two defensive subs in the first 42 minutes meant there was only one left for the second half. Lampard chose target forward Michy Batshuayi over Pulisic, Ross Barkley, and Pedro. Batshuayi drew a free kick upon introduction, and coudn’t flash an opener header on frame in the 88th.

Man of the Match: Firmino, whose steady presence, strong dribbling, and — most importantly — powerful header steadied the match for a time, moments after VAR denied the Blues an equalizer.

Honorable mention: Kante was everywhere, stopping Mohamed Salah‘s long dribble toward goal late as a highlight. Another highlight, this. See ya later Fabinho.


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A foul-heavy, physical start yielded a free kick atop the Chelsea 18 after Andreas Christensen got tangled with Sadio Mane.

A training ground play had Salah roll a shot pass for Alexander-Arnold to belt past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 15th minute.

An injury to Emerson Palmieri then introduced Marcos Alonso to the match, a 16th minute substitution adding insult to the, well, you know.

Adrian saved Tammy Abraham‘s 1v1 chance in the 24th minute, a misstep from the youngster and great moment for Liverpool’s No. 2 backstop.

Azpilicueta looked to have leveled when he mopped up a sloppy final third performance from the Reds celebrated back line, but VAR ruled Mason Mount as offside.

Liverpool then made it 2-0, adding insult to insult, when unmarked Firmino hammered a header into the goal.

A calamitous first half continued with Christensen waylaid by an injury, as he subbed off for Kurt Zouma. Forty-two minutes in, two subs down.

The game could’ve been effectively put to bed on a 46th minute set piece, but Virgil Van Dijk‘s back post effort tame and allowed Arrizabalaga to make a fine save.

Chelsea found some footing in the second half, and Liverpool was cautioned for time wasting. N’Golo Kante dragged a shot wide in the 59th minute.

Kante was the next man on the score sheet, turning Fabinho and dribbling free into the 18 to blasting a 71st minute effort past Adrian. Game on.

But Batshuayi couldn’t flash a late header on goal, and Mason Mount butchered a difficult near-post chance to make it 2-2 late. Liverpool escaped, and is starting to feel a bit like the dreaded term: Team of Destiny.

Kepa replaces De Gea as Spain starting goalkeeper

Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s a clear new starting goalkeeper for the Spanish National Team.

After three straight starts, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has taken the mantle of Spain’s No. 1 goalkeeper from Manchester United’s David De Gea. According to Spanish publication Marca, the decision likely came from both assistant and interim coach Robert Moreno and Spain head coach Luis Enrique, through mobile correspondence over the past few weeks.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Kepa started at the Faroe Islands in a 4-1 win last Friday for Spain on the road and he’s followed that with a start at home against Sweden. Kepa had made his first start in this run in a 2-0 win at Malta. All three matches have been for Euro 2020 qualification.

The move away from de Gea comes after a number of factors. De Gea has had, by all accounts, a rough season with Man United, especially as the team struggled through the last two months of the Premier League season. In April alone, his three errors in four games cost his team victories, and were so out of character compared with how he had played in the past. It’s as if all the pressure he had absorbed over the years had finally caused the dam to break.

At the same time, de Gea was in goal as Spain finished second in their UEFA Nations League group in 2018, including defeats to both England and Croatia.

At the same time, Kepa has had a very strong season in his first campaign at Chelsea, leading the side to third place in the league and stepping into goal for the UEFA Europa League final. It’s a deserved promotion for Kepa, even if it’s a tough demotion for de Gea.

The Man United goalkeeper, at 28-years old, could still have a future at the national team level. However, he’ll have to be happy to play second fiddle yet again after three years as the Spain No. 1.

Everton upends Chelsea at Goodison Park (video)

Leave a comment
  • Richarlison scores 12th goal of season
  • Sides combine for 30 shots
  • Sigurdsson converts rebound after missing penalty

Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson scored second half goals as Everton handed Chelsea a 2-0 setback at Goodison Park on Sunday.

The loss keeps Chelsea in sixth place, three points behind Arsenal and one shy of Manchester United.

Everton is 11th with 40 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Gonzalo Higuain was saved by Jordan Pickford moments after Eden Hazard hit an early effort off the far goal post.

Mostly, however, the first half was a series of Chelsea chances without finish, Pedro a particularly busy and influential member of the visitors.

The Spaniard had the ball in the back of the net off a free kick sent over the top of the Everton back line, but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The second half began with a bang, the noise made when Andre Gomes saw his shot move off the cross bar.

Richarlison then burst toward a loose ball and headed into the Chelsea goal after Dominic Calvert-Lewin‘s header off a corner was parried by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Pickford then kept the lead in tact with a terrific low save on a Higuain drive through traffic.

Richarlison then won a penalty when he chipped a ball past Marcos Alonso and the Spaniard stepped on his foot. Sigurdsson saw his penalty saved by Arrizabalaga, but rolled in the rebound.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Caballero backs Kepa, Sarri moves on after Chelsea win

AP Photo/Tim Ireland
Leave a comment

Chelsea’s Willy Caballero must’ve been feeling some pressure after sliding into Kepa Arrizabalaga‘s shoes following the fallout from the latter’s refusal to leave Sunday’s League Cup Final loss to Manchester City.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 2-0 Spurs ]

While the Blues’ backstop didn’t actually have to stop a Spurs shot on target, he kept the clean sheet and managed to big up his young goalkeeping partner in the post-match press conference.

“Always a clean sheet for me is satisfaction,” Caballero said. “We spoke about what happened and the very good news … is we are ready. Kepa was fantastic today supporting me. I think he learned and we learned and we are improving as a team.”

Pedro scored and was a general force for the Blues, and has seen his share of drama between his time at Barcelona and Chelsea.

He was not worried after the game, as Chelsea rebounded from a bad run to beat a big rival. And more importantly, he says the team is unified in its pursuit of its goals.

“It’s good to stay all together,” Pedro said. “It’s a big team. From here until the rest of the season, we aim for Top Four and also to win the Europa League.”

As for the man closest to the center of the Kepa incident, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said Wednesday’s match and the punishment to move Arrizabalaga to the bench were both victories for the club.

“It was really very easy because Kepa made a big mistake and then paid with the club. In this match he has to pay for the team. It was only a message for all the team, the dressing room, we are a team, not 25 individuals. Now we stop the question, it is behind us and in the future Kepa will be with us.”

Sarri drops Kepa to Chelsea bench as Caballero starts against Spurs

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea fined goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga one week’s wages for his refusal of a substitution in the dying minutes of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final. Many wondered whether that would be all the punishment Maurizio Sarri would dish out for an act of clear defiance.

That would not be all the punishment for the 24-year-old.

Maurizio Sarri has left Kepa on the bench for the enormous Premier League match against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, naming Willy Caballero to the starting lineup. The game kicks off at 3:00 p.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Chelsea v. Tottenham on NBCSports.com ]

Caballero was left befuddled on the touchline on Sunday during Kepa’s antics, dressed and ready to come on after the Spaniard was apparently injured moments earlier. However, Kepa popped up and wildly waved Sarri off who was prepared to bring on the backup with penalties looming. Kepa then failed to slow Manchester City in the shootout, most notably seeing Sergio Aguero’s effort slip straight through his hands after reaching the shot.

In his pre-match media opportunities, Sarri was asked extensively about the situation, and claimed that he had not made a  decision on whether to start or sit Kepa moving forward, but that his decision either way needs to “send a message to my group.” He also said that he did not want to over-punish Kepa and that “we don’t want to kill him” for making a mistake.

In the immediate aftermath of the match, Sarri called the whole situation a “misunderstanding” and explained that he believed Kepa to be injured, while the player was not refusing a substitute, but instead simply gesturing that he was fit enough to continue.

Player discipline aside, the decision is a massive one given the stakes of the game. The pressure has already been applied to Sarri for the last few weeks with Chelsea’s league form dipping and the club dropping to sixth in the Premier League table. Spurs, meanwhile, will feel the need to win if its slim title hopes are to remain, giving the match an even bigger edge.