Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has revealed Edouard Mendy will remain his first-choice goalkeeper, despite snubbing the Senegal international in favour of Kepa Arrizabalaga in Monday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Arrizabalaga, who had not started a Premier League game since October’s 3-3 draw with Southampton, was a surprise inclusion in Tuchel’s lineup, with the boss keen to give both his goalkeepers a chance to impress.
The team selection prompted rumours that Tuchel was being instructed to play Arrizabalaga by the club’s hierarchy, who grew concerned by Frank Lampard’s treatment of the Spaniard towards the end of his tenure at the club, but Tuchel insisted he was simply giving Mendy the chance to rest.
“Edouard is the number one and that is clear,” Tuchel told Sky Sports (via the Daily Mail). “This was clear before the game and it stays like this.
“I am very happy Kepa continued with a second clean sheet in a row, to let him build up his rhythm and confidence. Edou will be in goal from now on because he recovered physically and mentally.”
It was a solid performance from Arrizabalaga, who pulled off a handful of impressive saves, but most importantly, he made it through the entire 90 minutes without making a mistake. He celebrated the win on Twitter and was clearly feeling so positive that he allowed fans to reply to his post for the first time in months.
However, the mood was not as happy for striker Tammy Abraham, who managed just 20 minutes before being forced off with an ankle injury he picked up in a collision with Jamaal Lascelles that left Tuchel seething.
“There’s no update yet on Tammy, but we needed to take him off after a hard tackle,” said Tuchel (via Sky Sports News). “So, we are worried, but there’s no news of him.
“My assistant tried to show [the fourth official] the tackle on the iPad and he told us he was not allowed to talk to us. It was the tackle, but we didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to watch. So okay, we didn’t realise that.
“We had the feeling it was a reckless tackle. He (Lascelles) played the ball, yes, but for me, it’s too much of a risk to an injury to the opponent. And because of that for me, it’s a foul. It’s reckless, but okay it was not like us to criticise, just to discuss with the officials.”