Frank Lampard feels the intense spotlight on Kepa Arrizabalaga has been slightly unfair as he revealed the goalkeeper may yet play again for Chelsea, despite the arrival of Edouard Mendy.
Kepa was first choice to start the new season but lost his place after the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool, during which he made a crucial error to allow the reigning Premier League champions to double their lead at Stamford Bridge.
Willy Caballero was selected on Saturday against West Brom, where Chelsea fought back from 3-0 down at half-time to salvage a point, while Mendy has joined from Rennes to add further competition.
The new signing may push Kepa further down the pecking order, though Lampard has praised the Spain international’s professionalism in training since being dropped.
“I certainly wouldn’t go to the point as far as saying he [Kepa] has played his last game for Chelsea,” Lampard told the media ahead of Tuesday’s EFL Cup clash with Tottenham.
“It’s been a difficult time for Kepa, that’s well documented. I know it and he knows it, but we certainly shouldn’t jump to that conclusion.
“Also, and I’ve felt quite strongly about this in the last week, there is also the understanding that Kepa is a young man, and a lot of the spotlight on him has become slightly unfair.
“I have to protect him because I know he’s a good lad. He’s playing with absolute professionalism and attempting to do the best he can, as all the squad have to.”
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 28, 2020
The Chelsea boss revealed Mendy has quickly settled into life at the club and is in the squad to face Spurs, along with another new recruit in left-back Ben Chilwell, who made his bow off the bench in the last round against Barnsley.
However, Hakim Ziyech is not quite ready for a debut in the midweek London derby. Christian Pulisic is also unavailable, though the winger is nearing a return to action for the Blues.
“It’s all very positive, the early signs and interactions, as a man and also on the training pitch,” Lampard said of Mendy, who cost a reported £20million fee.
“He settled in very well in those few days and we’ve made him very welcome, as always.
“It’s competition. He’s a good goalkeeper and we know a lot about him. We will see how we go.”