Kepa Arrizabalaga has been a calming presence between the posts for Chelsea. Unfazed by the weight of his transfer fee and replacing Thibaut Courtois, the Spanish custodian maintains his steady improvement.
Much had been made of how Chelsea made an unproven 23-year-old the most expensive goalkeeper in history. His £71.6million fee surpassed the £56million set by Alisson‘s transfer to Liverpool a few weeks earlier. Our tactical analysis looks at his performances compared to rival ‘keepers and how he has taken to English football.
On signing for Chelsea, Kepa Arrizabalaga was revealed to be a calm goalkeeper whose maturity belied his young age. His shot-stopping ability compared encouragingly to Courtois’ and his passing ability shows he fit right into the high-possession system. He can distribute passes over long and short distances and would not hesitate to rush out to mop up any loose balls, maintaining his team’s build-up from the back.
Kepa Arrizabalaga does not neglect his primary responsibilities. He registered his 11th clean sheet in 25 league games against Huddersfield which is behind only Alisson in that regard. He has conceded 23 league goals behind a Chelsea team that continues to get to grips with the manager’s system. Kepa makes 2.08 saves per match with a 69.33% save success rate, Alisson and Ederson compare at 2.08, 78.13% and 1.64, 67.21% respectively. The only negative is that he’s slow in reacting to shots; Mkhitaryan’s goal at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham’s goals in the league and cup and some of Bournemouth’s goals recently prove this.
In keeping with the demands of a modern-day goalkeeper and his transfer fee, the Basque country native is again impressive. He has completed 715 total passes – more than Alisson’s 685 and Ederson’s 638- averaging 28.60 per match with a pass completion rate of 86.9% and 128 total accurate long passes. Liverpool’s Alisson edges Kepa with touches (904 to 895) and passes forward (314 to 312) but Manchester City‘s Ederson (839 touches) makes more forward passes (327) of all three.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has racked up impressive statistics against goalkeepers who do a similar job of building play from the back. Even edging some of the goalkeeping stats which are the first reasons for bringing him to the club, to keep the ball out of the net. His seamless adaptation to Premier League football is a reassuring element amongst vast change in style brought about by the manager.
He has been lauded by teammates for his cool, calm and collected demeanour around the training ground. Additionally, his mature showings give confidence to the rest of the team which is key for a top-class goalkeeper. Kepa is settled off the pitch too, recently granting an interview in English to Chelsea’s official in-house channel. He can only build on his performances in his first season and improve, hopefully, he becomes first-choice for his country. Chelsea have got a goalkeeper who is ready to become the best.