Africa-Press – Ethiopia. Arsenal legend, Paul Merson, has hit out at Chelsea goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, following his display during the Blues’ Carabao Cup final defeat against Liverpool on Sunday.
Merson said he could not remember Kepa near a penalty during the shootout against Liverpool, adding that the Stamford Bridge club would have won the Carabao Cup final against the Reds at Wembley Stadium if Edouard Mendy had not been replaced by Kepa for the penalty shootout.
With Chelsea drawing 0-0 against Liverpool towards the end of extra-time, the club’s manager, Thomas Tuchel, made the decision to replace Mendy as penalties loomed.
Kepa has developed a reputation as a penalty specialist in the past.
But Tuchel’s plan failed this time as Kepa did not save any of Liverpool’s 11 penalties before he blazed the deciding kick over the bar to hand the trophy to Jurgen Klopp’s men.
“That was the best game I have seen Mendy have for Chelsea – he was outstanding – so why would you change your goalie? He is playing the game of his life, red hot, can’t beat him, and you go and change it?
“It is easy to say after the game but, when it gets to penalties, there is only one person that is not under pressure and that’s the goalie. The goalie has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The players are the ones who have got everything on their shoulders.
“As soon as he [Kepa] comes on it swaps completely round the other way. All the pressure’s on him and nobody else, and that was the problem. It happened three years ago when he refused to come off – all the pressure was on him that day and it was on him again.
“I just couldn’t work it out. Chelsea would be Carabao Cup winners if Mendy was in goal. I can’t remember him [Kepa] getting near a penalty. [Mohamed] Salah goes to the left all the time and he [Kepa] went the other way. The Van Dijk one – he was standing on that side of the goal and he still never got near it. Have a rough idea of what you are coming up against. Do your homework,” Merson told Sky Sports.
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