In a very poor defensive season, there was only one bit of good news for Chelsea. That was the consistent performances of goalkeeper Kepa Arizzabalaga, who kept a solid 14 clean sheets in 36 Premier League games. The young Spanish goalkeeper has come on leaps and bounds last season after initially struggling during at the beginning of his Premier League career.
Kepa performed so well last season, he even replaced Spanish compatriot David De Gea as the Spanish number one during the two Euro Championship qualifiers versus the Faroe Islands and Sweden at the beginning of June.
However, the young Spaniard has endured a fair share of controversial moments during his sole season with the club. During the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, Arizzabalaga refused to be substituted after looking like he had picked up an injury, and former boss Maurizio Sarri had readied backup goalkeeper Willy Caballero to come on.
Next season will be a huge campaign for Arizzabalaga who after such a solid debut year needs to pick up the mantle of leadership. With Chelsea being banned from signing players in the next two transfer windows, there will be no new defensive reinforcements. Chelsea’s defenders showed last season with heavy defeats away to Bournemouth and Manchester City that they can not be relied upon to be leaders. Arizzabalaga with his strong performances can be a leader and a fine example for those ahead of him, like De Gea, who has been a leader at Manchester United winning four of the last six players of the year awards.
The £54 million-rated Chelsea man has all the qualities to become one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. He has already replaced De Gea as the Spanish number one, and if he follows the Manchester United man’s path, he too can be a leader by example for Chelsea’s ailing defence.