Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insists Kepa Arrizabalaga has nothing to prove as he backed the goalkeeper to continue making the most of his run in the side.

Kepa remains the most expensive keeper of all time after Chelsea paid £71million (€80m) to sign the Spain international from Athletic Bilbao in August 2018.

The 26-year-old struggled to justify that fee in his first two years at Stamford Bridge, however, and lost his place as first choice following Edouard Mendy's arrival 12 months ago.

But Kepa was handed a first start of the campaign last weekend with Mendy out injured and kept a clean sheet in Chelsea's 3-0 win over Tottenham.

He is expected to remain in goal for Wednesday's EFL Cup third-round tie against Aston Villa and Tuchel is glad to have such strong competition in the goalkeeping department.

"We have two super strong goalkeepers. Do we need them both? We had proof last weekend," Tuchel said. "He was a key factor to have a clean sheet at the weekend. 

"It is as easy as that. Whether the money is too high or low, these measurements don't matter to us. This pressure is off his shoulders and he deserves it to be off his shoulders.

"He seems happy to me, he may not be happy with the situation but he is happy with where he is at and the part he plays in the team.

"Everyone wants to play more minutes. We have contracts for 24 players including goalkeepers so we simply cannot give the same amount of minutes to everyone. 

"It's the same for the guys who play on the field but it is more dramatic for goalkeepers. That's because we don't change them during games so maybe it seems even harder.

"I feel an open guy, a humble guy, a super nice guy, a top, top professional sports guy who is a big part of this squad. I feel him happy. 

"Maybe he could be even happier with more minutes but I don't feel he is concerned at the moment because he is pushing and fighting for his chances.

"You can't force situations. I have a feeling with his mindset that he is here and he pushes with his calmness and positivity. He did not force it. 

"He doesn't have to prove to me that he is a good goalkeeper because I see it every day in training. 

"Maybe that's the point, that he does not try too hard to convince everybody that he is worth what the club paid.

"Who cares about what the club paid? So what. Money doesn't matter now. The question is whether we can afford to have him as a goalkeeper."

Kepa has made two appearances in total this campaign, having saved two penalties in last month's Super Cup win over Villarreal after being brought on as a late substitute.

The Spaniard has featured 111 times for Chelsea in all competitions, conceding 120 times and keeping 40 clean sheets across that period.

By comparison, Mendy has conceded 31 goals and has 29 shutouts from his first 50 appearances for the Blues.

Not only does Mendy concede fewer goals per 90 minutes than Kepa (0.62 compared to 1.09), he also boasts a better save percentage – 78.32 compared to 65.12.

Since making his Chelsea debut on September 29 last year, only Manchester City's Ederson (30) has kept more clean sheets than Mendy among keepers in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

With a huge Premier League clash against reigning champions City coming up on Saturday, Tuchel is hopeful that Mendy will be available for selection once again.

"I hope he will be back in team training on Thursday," the German coach said. "If it goes well, I hope he can be ready for Saturday but I don't know right now."

Romelu Lukaku's final kick of his first spell at Chelsea came in a Super Cup.

On August 30, 2013, the Belgian – then 20, still young, albeit one with the physical stature of a player much further on in his career – missed the decisive penalty as Chelsea became the first team to lose successive Super Cup fixtures, going down in a shoot-out to Bayern Munich.

Not long after that game, Lukaku headed to Everton, initially on a loan deal before he made a permanent move to Goodison Park a year later. A return to Chelsea, however, has always seemed a possibility for the striker who stormed onto the scene with Anderlecht in his teens.

Whereas a Super Cup marked the end of his first spell in London, Wednesday's meeting with Villarreal showed just why the Blues are set to break their transfer record to sign the 28-year-old, who arrives back at the club a Serie A winner and one of Europe's leading forwards.

This time, Lukaku watched on from afar as Chelsea, defeated on penalties by Liverpool in the 2019 edition, clinched victory in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in Belfast – Kepa Arrizabalaga coming on to be the hero.

 

ROM THE REMEDY

It seems wrong to be too critical of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea, given their remarkable success in his short time at the club. They went unbeaten in their first 14 games under the German, secured a top-four finish, reached the FA Cup final and, of course, won the Champions League.

Yet from Tuchel's appointment until the end of last season, Chelsea scored only 38 goals in all competitions.

The chances were being created - it would be difficult for players such as Mason Mount, who crafted the second-most opportunities in the Premier League last season, Hakim Ziyech, who opened the scoring in Belfast before going off injured, Christian Pulisic and Champions League final goalscorer Kai Havertz not to fashion their fair share.

Much was made of Timo Werner's first season at the club too, as the former RB Leipzig forward fluffed his lines time after time. He finished with six league goals but from 79 attempts, registering a shot conversion rate of just 7.59 per cent, while he only netted five of the 23 'big' chances, as defined by Opta, that came his way.

Up until the 27th minute at Windsor Park, when Ziyech tucked in from Havertz's centre, it was all Chelsea, but the same issues which had plagued their frontline last season were present once more.

In the sixth minute, Marcos Alonso's brilliant cross caught Werner on his heels. It would have been a gift for Lukaku. Werner forced a great save from the resulting corner, though that was the only shot he managed in his 65 minutes on the field.

More issues came after Ziyech's opener, as Chelsea (who had 67.9 per cent possession before the break) failed to add to their lead and let Villarreal – who levelled through Gerard Moreno – claim control.

Lukaku's imminent arrival, however, should ensure this profligacy, demonstrated again by Pulisic's 100th-minute miss from close range, is not repeated throughout the coming campaign.

Chelsea ended the game against Villarreal with 20 attempts, of which seven were on target. Had Lukaku's signing come in time, it is hard to imagine penalties would have been required at all to decide the outcome.

KEPA THE HERO

While Chelsea's forwards toiled, it was forgotten man Kepa who came on to be the difference.

In the 119th minute, Edouard Mendy made way for the former Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper – just over 17 minutes after that change, Kepa dived low to his right to keep out Raul Albiol's weak effort and ensure the Champions League holders have now lifted the Super Cup in eight of the past nine seasons.

It was a brave call by Tuchel, who follows in the footsteps of compatriots Jurgen Klopp and Hansi Flick in winning the Super Cup – German coaches having triumphed in the last three editions.

With Lukaku soon to be back on board, it could – and perhaps should – be the first trophy of many for the Blues this term.

For now, though, this was just a nice story for Kepa, the keeper who once refused to be taken off in a cup final had come on late to help decide the outcome in his team's favour.

Romelu Lukaku's final kick of his first spell at Chelsea came in a Super Cup.

On August 30, 2013, the Belgian – then 20, still young, albeit one with the physical stature of a player much further on in his career – missed the decisive penalty as Chelsea became the first team to lose successive Super Cup fixtures, going down in a shoot-out to Bayern Munich.

Not long after that game, Lukaku headed to Everton, initially on a loan deal before he made a permanent move to Goodison Park a year later. A return to Chelsea, however, has always seemed a possibility for the striker who stormed onto the scene with Anderlecht in his teens.

Whereas a Super Cup marked the end of his first spell in London, Wednesday's meeting with Villarreal showed just why the Blues are set to break their transfer record to sign the 28-year-old, who arrives back at the club a Serie A winner and one of Europe's leading forwards.

This time, Lukaku watched on from afar as Chelsea, defeated on penalties by Liverpool in the 2019 edition, clinched victory in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in Belfast – Kepa Arrizabalaga coming on to be the hero.

 

ROM THE REMEDY

It seems wrong to be too critical of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea, given their remarkable success in his short time at the club. They went unbeaten in their first 14 games under the German, secured a top-four finish, reached the FA Cup final and, of course, won the Champions League.

Yet from Tuchel's appointment until the end of last season, Chelsea scored only 38 goals in all competitions.

The chances were being created - it would be difficult for players such as Mason Mount, who crafted the second-most opportunities in the Premier League last season, Hakim Ziyech, who opened the scoring in Belfast before going off injured, Christian Pulisic and Champions League final goalscorer Kai Havertz not to fashion their fair share.

Much was made of Timo Werner's first season at the club too, as the former RB Leipzig forward fluffed his lines time after time. He finished with six league goals but from 79 attempts, registering a shot conversion rate of just 7.59 per cent, while he only netted five of the 23 'big' chances, as defined by Opta, that came his way.

Up until the 27th minute at Windsor Park, when Ziyech tucked in from Havertz's centre, it was all Chelsea, but the same issues which had plagued their frontline last season were present once more.

In the sixth minute, Marcos Alonso's brilliant cross caught Werner on his heels. It would have been a gift for Lukaku. Werner forced a great save from the resulting corner, though that was the only shot he managed in his 65 minutes on the field.

More issues came after Ziyech's opener, as Chelsea (who had 67.9 per cent possession before the break) failed to add to their lead and let Villarreal – who levelled through Gerard Moreno – claim control.

Lukaku's imminent arrival, however, should ensure this profligacy, demonstrated again by Pulisic's 100th-minute miss from close range, is not repeated throughout the coming campaign.

Chelsea ended the game against Villarreal with 20 attempts, of which seven were on target. Had Lukaku's signing come in time, it is hard to imagine penalties would have been required at all to decide the outcome.

KEPA THE HERO

While Chelsea's forwards toiled, it was forgotten man Kepa who came on to be the difference.

In the 119th minute, Edouard Mendy made way for the former Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper – just over 17 minutes after that change, Kepa dived low to his right to keep out Raul Albiol's weak effort and ensure the Champions League holders have now lifted the Super Cup in eight of the past nine seasons.

It was a brave call by Tuchel, who follows in the footsteps of compatriots Jurgen Klopp and Hansi Flick in winning the Super Cup – German coaches having triumphed in the last three editions.

With Lukaku soon to be back on board, it could – and perhaps should – be the first trophy of many for the Blues this term.

For now, though, this was just a nice story for Kepa, the keeper who once refused to be taken off in a cup final had come on late to help decide the outcome in his team's favour.

Thomas Tuchel explained his extra-time goalkeeper substitution was based on statistical data, not spontaneity, with Kepa Arrizabalaga making two shoot-out saves to win the Super Cup for Chelsea.

Gerard Moreno's second-half strike cancelled out Hakim Ziyech's opener at Windsor Park and, with penalties looming, Tuchel sent on Kepa for Edouard Mendy in the closing minutes.

The Spain goalkeeper denied both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol in the shoot-out, ensuring a 6-5 penalties win for Chelsea after a 1-1 draw to secure their second Super Cup.

Speaking to BT Sport after the game, Tuchel explained his decision to bring on Kepa was pre-discussed and based on data introduced to him by his analysts and goalkeeping coaches.

"It was not spontaneous," Tuchel responded when asked about the extra-time change. "We talked about it with the goalkeepers after the first cup game against Barnsley. We had some statistics. We were well prepared."

"Kepa has the best percentage at saving penalties. We spoke to the players that this could happen when we play in knockout games. It's fantastic how Edouard [Mendy] accepted it.

"There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline. They're team players. Edouard does not show the pride to not step off the field. He was happy to do it for the team and take this for the team."

It was a strange reversal of roles for the former Athletic Bilbao man – the world's most expensive goalkeeper – who in the 2019 EFL Cup final refused to go off when then-Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri attempted to bring on Willy Caballero. Chelsea went on to lose on penalties to Manchester City.

However, Kepa's heroics in Belfast banished any potential Super Cup demons for Chelsea, who picked up their first triumph since 1998, having lost to Atletico Madrid in 2012 and suffered shoot-out heartbreak against both Bayern Munich and Liverpool in 2013 and 2019.

Wednesday's win also ensured Tuchel, the third German coach in a row to lift the Super Cup after Jurgen Klopp and Hansi Flick, maintained his perfect record against Spanish opposition, winning four and drawing five of nine games.

It was not all good news after Chelsea's win, however, with Hakim Ziyech's shoulder injury marring another memorable European outing for Tuchel's men.

Ziyech did return to the stands in the second half with his arm in a sling, though Tuchel conceded "if you take a player out during the first half it's serious."

Chelsea will await news on the extent of Ziyech's injury while their attention now turns to hosting Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener on Saturday.

Kepa Arrizabalaga and Edouard Mendy credited one another after the former was introduced in extra-time and produced shoot-out heroics to ensure Chelsea's first Super Cup win since 1998.

Penalties were required after Gerard Moreno cancelled out Hakim Ziyech's opener and, in the closing minutes of extra-time, Thomas Tuchel sent on Kepa at Windsor Park.

The Spanish goalkeeper stepped up to the plate, denying both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol, to secure a 6-5 shoot-out victory and Chelsea's second Super Cup success at the fifth time of asking.

While Tuchel hailed his analysts and backroom staff for the decision based on statistics after the game, the two goalkeepers rejoiced together when speaking to BT Sport.

"It's not a typical situation but we arrived to penalties after Edouard did a fantastic job," Kepa said. "Finally we won and we are so happy.

"I was ready because I knew this could happen. I tried to be ready mentally and physically."

Kepa, who had been pre-warned that this could be the case should the final go to penalties, is simply statistically better at saving penalties according to Tuchel, hence why the decision was made.

Mendy's saves against Boulaye Dia and Gerard Moreno kept Chelsea in front and, despite conceding later on and being removed with minutes to go, he also echoed similar sentiments stood alongside his fellow goalkeeper.

"I'm happy because we won," the former Rennes man added. "I knew since last year that if Kepa came on the pitch he would help the team.

"It's a team effort. We play for Chelsea and for success. We did this today together."

While the pair enjoyed the collective effort that secured the win, it was not all positive news for Chelsea, who lost Hakim Ziyech to a shoulder injury in the first half.

The Moroccan playmaker returned to the stands before the second half with his arm in a sling and Chelsea now await an update as they prepare for their Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on August 14.

Kepa Arrizabalaga was the hero as Chelsea secured their first Super Cup triumph since 1998, running out 6-5 winners in a penalty shoot-out against Villarreal following a 1-1 draw in Belfast.

Hakim Ziyech opened the scoring after good work down the left flank from Kai Havertz before the former Ajax man's shoulder injury marred an entertaining first half.

Alberto Moreno and Gerard Moreno both hit the woodwork either side of half-time, though the latter restored parity with a fine finish to send the final to extra time.

Kepa, who was brought on in the closing minutes solely for penalties, denied both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol to make sure Chelsea came out on top.

The Champions League holders had started proceedings impressively too, Timo Werner forcing the first save as Sergio Asenjo had to react quickly to parry away a close-range effort from Havertz's inswinging corner.

Asenjo, though, was no match for Ziyech's sweeping finish after Havertz found space on the left and drilled towards his team-mate near the penalty spot.

Ziyech's injury, suffered while defending a set-piece situation, offered Thomas Tuchel a reason to be concerned, with Alberto Moreno then smashing an effort onto the crossbar.

Gerard Moreno was also denied in similar circumstances after the break, capitalising on Edouard Mendy's wayward clearance before seeing his low strike smack the post.

However, the Villarreal forward quickly made amends, exchanging a one-two with Boulaye Dia before lifting over Mendy for his 23rd goal of 2021, ranking him fifth across Europe's top-five leagues.

Both Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount could not find extra-time winners and, with a shoot-out in sight, Tuchel sent on Kepa.

Opposite number Asenjo drew first blood with a stop against Havertz, but that advantage faded away when Kepa saved for the first time.

With no further misses between the other eight takers, sudden death kicks were necessary. After Antonio Rudiger rolled in his attempt, Kepa guessed the right way to deny Villarreal captain Albiol.

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is the latest player to be called up to Spain's back-up training bubble ahead of Euro 2020.

Spain's preparations have been thrown into disarray following Sergio Busquets' positive coronavirus test on Sunday.

The senior squad, who are in isolation, all returned negative tests on Monday but will continue to follow strict protocols before the start of the Euros, with players from the Under-21 squad set to play in Tuesday's friendly with Lithuania.

As a precaution against further positive cases depleting his squad, coach Luis Enrique has created a parallel training bubble with players effectively on stand-by to join the main Euros squad.

Rodrigo Moreno, Pablo Fornals, Carlos Soler and Brais Mendez were first called up to the bubble before defender Raul Albiol was added late on Monday.

Kepa will also join the group, giving Luis Enrique coverage across the positions should any further COVID-19 cases arise.

Kepa made only seven Premier League appearances in 2020-21 after losing his place to Edouard Mendy. The former Athletic Bilbao keeper has 11 senior caps for Spain.

Thomas Tuchel seemed relaxed about the condition of Edouard Mendy after the goalkeeper suffered a rib injury in Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa, less then a week before the Champions League final.

Mendy was replaced by Kepa Arrizabalaga at half-time, with the Senegal international having hurt his ribs after colliding with the goal frame.

Chelsea went on to secure qualification for the Champions League regardless of their defeat to Villa, though the fitness of their first-choice goalkeeper was undoubtedly a concern with such an important game on the horizon.

Mendy joined Chelsea last year and quickly established himself as the club's primary option between the posts under Frank Lampard, before retaining his place when Tuchel came in four months ago.

The German expects a firm update on Monday but is optimistic the goalkeeper will be available to face Manchester City in Porto Saturday.

Asked how they handled Mendy's loss, Tuchel told reporters: "It is easy to handle.

"He fell into the frame of the net. He feels a big pain in his ribs. We will have an update tomorrow with what's going on.

"We will see if it is possible [for him to play on Saturday] and if it is possible, we will push to do everything so he is in goal on Saturday."

Mendy has kept 16 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, a haul bettered by only Thibaut Courtois (17), Jan Oblak (18), Ederson (19) and Mike Maignan (21) across the top five European leagues in 2020-21.

His nine clean sheets since Tuchel's appointment is only behind Maignan's 11 over the same period.

Nevertheless, his xGOT (expected goals on target) conceded does leave a little to be desired, as his 26 goals let in is from a xGOT of 22.8.

This means the average goalkeeper would have expected to only let in roughly 23 goals from the quality of chances against him, therefore suggesting Mendy can do better.

Oblak has the best record (among goalkeepers to have played 15 or more games) in this regard over Europe's top five leagues, preventing LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid from conceding 8.6 goals more than they have.

However, Kepa's form from last season still shows how much of an upgrade Mendy has been.

Kepa conceded 47 Premier League goals from an xGOT value of 34.3, which suggests he was at fault for 12.7 goals – that was the third-worst such record across the top five leagues.

The Spaniard cannot be blamed too much for Sunday's defeat, though, the only goal he conceded coming via a penalty.

However, Tuchel accepts Chelsea got lucky, with Tottenham's 4-2 win over Leicester City ultimately vital in ensuring the Blues finished fourth.

"We are lucky that Tottenham did the job for us and finished the job for us today. Like I said, we came to win and to put any doubts to the side but it was not possible," Tuchel continued.

"We are in the position, were in it, that it was possible to end in the four even with a defeat and that was possible because of the team's hard work and consistently good results.

"We need to adjust details and we need to be spot on on Saturday as we want a positive outcome."

Harry Kane's reported desire to leave Tottenham has created a race for his signature.

A lack of silverware is believed to be behind Kane's alleged urge to move on, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea the leading suitors.

In the post-COVID world where club finances have been hit hard, some clubs are getting creative.

 

TOP STORY - CHELSEA'S PLAYER-PLUS-CASH SWAP DEAL

Chelsea are launching a player-plus-cash swap deal to land Kane from Tottenham involving goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and forward Tammy Abraham, claims ESPN.

Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris is expected to leave the club, hence the lure of Kepa who has been back-up to Edouard Mendy, while Abraham, who is not a regular starter for the Blues, could help to fill the void left by Kane.

Kane is contracted with Tottenham for another three seasons and Spurs are believed to want a transfer fee of £150 million, so the addition of players would drop that figure down to an affordable level.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Guardian reports that Sergio Aguero has agreed to a two-year deal with Barcelona, with his departure from Manchester City this off-season already confirmed.

- Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac will leave the Gunners, with Schalke 04 and Lazio circling for the Bosnian's signature, reports Football London.

- Fernandinho was set to exit Manchester City, but The Times claims he will renew with the club on a one-year deal.

- The manager merry-go-round is in full swing, with The Mirror claiming that Wolves are looking at ex-Roma boss Paulo Fonseca, while The Sun reports that Tottenham will try to convince Brendan Rodgers to join the club if Leicester City fail to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Thomas Tuchel confirmed Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga were involved in an altercation in the wake of Saturday's shocking 5-2 defeat to West Brom, a game that Chelsea's head coach still cannot get his head around.

Chelsea found themselves on the end of a humiliating loss to the Premier League's second-bottom team, conceding five goals in a home league game for the first time since October 2011.

Similarly, West Brom netted five times on the road for the first time in over nine years.

Thiago Silva's sending off when Chelsea were 1-0 up was deemed to be the turning point, with Matheus Pereira netting a brace just prior the break, before Callum Robinson repeated that feat in the second period. Mbaye Diagne got the other Baggies goal, with Mason Mount's strike a mere consolation.

If the defeat was not bad enough, reports emerged the next day claiming Rudiger and Kepa had been involved in a bust-up at training.

While Chelsea did not comment on the matter publicly, Tuchel was open about the situation in Tuesday's news conference as he addressed the media ahead of the club's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Porto.

"It was not [serious]. It was an incident in training and got heated between Toni and Kepa," Tuchel said. "We calmed the situation down immediately. I don't want to play things down artificially, we do not want to accept [such incidents] but they can happen because everyone is competitive in training matches.

"The reaction to it, Toni and Kepa, was amazing. They showed how much respect they have for each other. They cleared the air and there was nothing left one day after.

"We spoke about the issue and then it was solved. This is the main part. It will stay with us, it wasn't awkward. They solved it straight after training in an honest and humble way and it showed me they have good character."

But although he initially played down the incident, Tuchel backtracked and emphasised the gravity of what occurred.

"It was serious," he continued. "Sometimes you have little situations when you look away and let them sort things out. We needed to interfere in this situation, so it was serious. How the guys handled the situation was impressive and showed character, but the situation was serious.

"That it got out [leaked]...I get used to it in modern times. There are too many channels and ways that information can get out. I heard even that some of my debrief from the match got out there too. Ok, it's not nice but I am not going to focus on who is the leak or whatever. I don't want to lose my trust in the group so I will accept it."

Regarding a punishment, Tuchel confirmed Rudiger will play on Wednesday and added: "No, no punishment so far because of the way they dealt with it. The reaction was immediate, they made it clear for everybody what happened. Toni sorted out it directly, which was necessary. It was a strong and brave thing to do and the right thing to do."

Tuchel quickly used the scrap to turn attention back to Chelsea's misfortune against West Brom, adamant that the statistics of the game suggested they ordinarily would have won.

"It's very natural there is a reaction to a result and game like this, so it is necessary to adapt," the German said. "It is a strong part of sports at this level that the guys hate to lose. So, if we suffer a big loss in a weird game, it's normal there are reactions.

"You have to swallow it and accept we lost the game. Then it's important that we are reliable in analysing the game. We can't only do meetings depending on the result. We can be critical after wins and we can point out things we like even though we lost 5-2.

"Part of this game's story is we won all the statistics against West Brom, all of them, with 10 men and 11 men, all statistics that matter to win games. Even expected goals [xG], we won the bypassed defenders, we won touches in the box, we won shots on targets – we won everything.

"If we played the same game again, I would bet a lot of money that we win 99 times out of 100."

And Tuchel has a point – in terms of xG, Chelsea edged West Brom 2.1 to 1.6, meaning the visitors were incredibly clinical with their chance-taking.

Nevertheless, West Brom's xG value was comfortably the highest registered by any team against Chelsea since Tuchel was appointed in January.

With a man advantage, West Brom certainly capitalised on the extra time and space in the final third.

Thomas Tuchel has told Kepa Arrizabalaga to not put too much pressure on himself as he bids to take advantage of a "new start" under the German. 

Kepa became the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea from LaLiga outfit Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m) two years ago.

However, the 26-year-old's unreliable form in the past year saw his place come under threat and he has now been usurped as Chelsea's number one goalkeeper by Edouard Mendy, who was signed from Rennes in September. 

Kepa has started both of Chelsea's FA Cup games this season and Tuchel confirmed he will once again be between the sticks for the Blues' fifth-round clash at Barnsley on Thursday. 

Tuchel, who has overseen three wins in four Premier League games since replacing Frank Lampard in January, has challenged Kepa to forget his struggles so far in England and wants him to start afresh under his tutelage. 

"We had a view on his situation and some difficulties on the sporting side," Tuchel said. 

"Maybe, also, the circumstances of his transfer are a little bit on his shoulders. The good thing for him is that this is a new start for him because I don't have a history with him.

"It is a special position. If you do make mistakes, everybody sees it and talks about it so you need a lot of mental strength and quality. I see this in all of the three goalkeepers. I absolutely believe [Kepa can turn it around].

"This is an opportunity [against Barnsley] and hopefully he does not want to overachieve. I want him to play a normal match. He does not have to show me or anybody else that he is ready to be Spain's number one."

Chelsea are aiming to claim their first FA Cup win against Barnsley, having lost to the Yorkshire outfit in their two previous meetings in the competition in 1989 and 2008.

Frank Lampard spared Kepa Arrizabalaga from criticism and said he has no doubt Timo Werner will come good after Chelsea's unconvincing FA Cup win over Luton Town.

Tammy Abraham's hat-trick was ultimately enough for Chelsea to overcome Championship side Luton 3-1 on Sunday and take their place in the fifth round.

A mistake at 2-0 up from goalkeeper Kepa – who has been demoted to second choice following Edouard Mendy's arrival at Stamford Bridge – enabled Jordan Clark to pull one back for Luton.

However, Kepa made amends with a fine save from Harry Cornick early in the second half, with Abraham's tap-in then rounding off the win.

Werner, who has scored just once in 16 games across all competitions, missed a late penalty as his frustrating run in front of goal continued.

Since he last scored in the league – on November 7 – Werner has attempted 21 shots, with just seven hitting the target, while the Germany international has missed seven big chances.

Lampard, however, stood by both Kepa and Werner, insisting the goalkeeper was not solely to blame for Luton's goal, while reiterating his confidence in Chelsea's misfiring striker.

"Kepa makes a really top save in the second half to make sure it doesn't go to 2-2," Lampard told a news conference.

"It is very easy for people to sort of hone in on that but Kepa is not playing so regularly. He comes in after training well and he is a good goalkeeper and I will certainly give him that one in the first half.

"I am as annoyed that we let someone stand in our box in space and get a shot away when we shouldn't have done. I think it was a general team moment of complacency with how we were at 2-0 which is not good enough.

"So, we got back to it very quickly and dominated the game and it made us slightly nervous to not have the two-goal lead that makes it comfortable. Once we got that back again, which we should have got a lot earlier, then the game was comfortable.

"With Timo, I'm disappointed for him. He gave a lot to the performance today. He was a threat, his link-up with Tammy, with people around him, it's just one of those things.

"When it's not going for you, it can happen. I missed penalties, I know the feeling. I know he will feel despondent, maybe now and the last few minutes of the game, but he shouldn't be.

"It's my job and his team-mates' job to lift him and he will be fine. It was almost a sign of what's going on for Timo at the minute, it's not quite dropping for him.

"But there will be a time when he takes penalties and hits the back of the net without thinking about it. At the moment that's not quite the time for Timo, but it will come and hopefully soon."

Chelsea lost 2-0 to Leicester City in the league on Tuesday, but have now won 52 of their last 54 FA Cup ties against sides from a lower division, with Barnsley up next in the competition.

"I always need the results," said Lampard, who has been under mounting scrutiny. "People expect a lot from our league position.

"People will look at it and look very closely at the moment but I look at the bigger picture. Of course, I wanted the result today. It is a nice air of positivity around the club to get to the next round. We are in two cup competitions with the Champions League, FA Cup, and we want to win more points in the league.

"That's a good three wins in four games, I'm happy to quote that one because in the modern day people will very much look at the short-term stats that can be flipped in different directions.

"It's nice for us in the short term that we have done that. The scrutiny on a club like Chelsea is normal. The job for us is not to get too caught up in how many games we won recently or where we are in the table."

Kepa Arrizabalaga made another blunder and Timo Werner missed a penalty but Tammy Abraham's hat-trick got Chelsea past Luton Town with a 3-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.

Abraham's quickfire double put Chelsea in control early in the FA Cup fourth-round tie on Sunday, as last season's runners up seemed to be heading for a comfortable success.

Yet Kepa, brought in as one of seven changes made by Frank Lampard from Tuesday's defeat at Leicester City, enabled Luton to haul themselves into the contest when he failed to keep out Jordan Clark's effort.

Abraham's third goal 16 minutes from time ultimately set up a fifth-round trip to Barnsley, though Werner's woeful run in front of goal continued when his late spot-kick was saved.

 

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