Thomas Tuchel has revealed why Kepa Arrizabalaga started Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United this evening.
The Chelsea team news brought a huge shock with Kepa handed his first start in the Premier League since the 3-3 draw with Southampton on October 17 after impressing in the FA Cup clash with Barnsley last Thursday.
The Spaniard came under intense criticism early in the season which saw him replaced by Edouard Mendy, who was signed amid Kepa’s disappointing form.
But Tuchel said last week that Kepa would get a fresh start during his reign with the German keen to give every player a shot at impressing him having only arrived in late January.
The £72million acquisition was handed a start against Barnsley in the cup after those comments, and after impressing, he has kept his place for this evening’s clash with Newcastle.
Explaining the shock decision ahead of the game, Tuchel told Sky Sports: “We need a strong Kepa in our squad and he had a good game in the cup, so we decided to give him another match to build up a little bit of rhythm, a little bit of confidence and to trust him because he did very good.
“At the same time, it gives Edu (Mendy) the chance to mentally recover in a demanding position, mentally and concentration-wise, so we can have both advantages and that’s why he stays in this game.”
The start is only Kepa’s fourth in the Premier League this season having been starved of league action, making four appearances across other cup competitions.