Chelsea: Petr Cech delivers verdict on Kepa Arrizabalaga, Edouard Mendy

Kepa Arrizabalaga has stood in for AFCON star Edouard Mendy

Kepa Arrizabalaga has stood in for AFCON star Edouard Mendy (Picture: Getty)

Petr Cech has singled out Kepa Arrizabalaga for praise and says the Chelsea goalkeeper has been ‘brilliant’ while standing in for team-mate Edouard Mendy.

Kepa has largely impressed in Chelsea’s last five games after being recalled to the side in the absence of first-choice shot-stopper Mendy, who is still at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal.

Much was expected of Kepa when, in the summer of 2018, he became the most expensive goalkeeper in history, but the Spain international struggled for the Blues and lost his place in the starting XI to January 2020 signing Mendy.

But, if the evidence of the last month is anything to go by, Kepa has eradicated the errors and become less erratic in goal, with his performances attracting praise from Chelsea legend and Stamford Bridge chief Cech.

Writing in a column on the Chelsea website, Cech said: ‘I must touch on Kepa, too.

‘He had to fill those big boots while Edou has been away, and he has been brilliant in all those games under even more scrutiny than usual.

‘You need a strong team and every person ready to help. The goalkeeping group work so hard together to make sure they are all ready for when the moment comes, so Kepa deserves credit too.’

Petr Cech has been impressed with Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

Petr Cech has been impressed with Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa (Picture: Getty)

Mendy capped a superb first year at Chelsea – in which he kept a clean sheet in the Champions League final victory – by being crowned the best goalkeeper in the world at the FIFA awards.

Cech added: ‘It’s another great achievement for him. He is the first African goalkeeper to win the award, which is amazing, and testament to how well he has done since he came to our club.

‘He had an incredible year, winning two trophies, and it reflects his hard work and attitude. It’s great to see him getting recognition, and our other players who made it to the Team of the Year.

‘The best thing is Edou can now add more trophies this year. He is at the Africa Cup of Nations now, Senegal are one of the favourites, so he could even win this trophy before he returns to us.

‘And then we have the Club World Cup and the Carabao Cup final to look forward to in a few weeks. Hopefully for him he will be on the right end of three more trophies.’

Mendy’s Senegal face Equatorial Guinea in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday. Chelsea, meanwhile, return to action following the winter break with a FA Cup clash against Plymouth Argyle on February 5.

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