Chelsea Boss Frank Lampard on Decision to Drop Kepa: 'I Just Expect Reactions'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2020

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 07: Frank Lampard, Manager of Chelsea talks with Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Chelsea FC at Goodison Park on December 07, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has said he wants to see a reaction from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after he was left out of the side for the 2-2 draw at Leicester City.

The Spain international has struggled for form, and Lampard took the 25-year-old out of the firing line in Chelsea's previous Premier League outing, starting with veteran Willy Caballero between the sticks instead.

The decision has led to questions over Kepa's long-term future at Stamford Bridge, although Lampard has said he thinks taking him out of the team may act as a catalyst for progression, per Paul MacInnes of the Guardian:

"It was just a selection on that day, but I want everyone's reaction to be spot on and he came out of the team. I know how that feels and what it would have meant to him. Every player [gets dropped], except maybe [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

"I don't expect smiley faces when people get dropped, I just expect reactions. With the competition in squads now … you have to always be aware that if your standards drop or if the manager chooses for whatever reason, [to leave you out] you need to handle it in the right way."

Lampard added that Kepa's reaction to being dropped has been "good." "I haven't had lots of conversations with him this week, but it's a decision for me to make and I have made my decision," continued the Chelsea manager.

The Blues boss is undoubtedly facing a big call for Monday's showdown with Manchester United. Caballero made some smart saves in the Leicester clash, although he was caught out positionally for the Foxes' second strike of the day, per Daniel Storey of Football365:

Caballero said the former Athletic Bilbao stopper offered him his full support before the match, despite being dropped:

Kepa finds himself in a difficult position, especially given he was expected to go from strength to strength when Chelsea paid a world-record fee for a goalkeeper to land him in the summer of 2018.

While there's no doubt he has a number of traits needed to be an elite stopper, he's lacked consistency this season. Kepa has struggled to command his penalty area and has failed to keep efforts out he would expect to save.

Per WhoScored.com, the Spaniard's shot-stopping percentage is not impressive:

According to Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, Chelsea are concerned about the Spain international's value dropping ahead of the summer should he remain on the bench. The Blues paid a whopping £71 million to sign him before the 2018-19 season.

Monday's selection will reveal plenty, especially given it's a crucial match for both teams. Chelsea occupy fourth spot in the Premier League and will be desperate to put some daylight between them and United, who are six points further back.

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