Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel has rejected claims that he gambled on bringing Kepa Arrizabalaga during the team’s penalty shootouts victory over Villarreal in Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup.
Kepa was Chelsea’s hero after being brought on in the final minute of the added half hour just for the spot-kicks.
Kepa saved Villarreal’s second attempt with his first meaningful touch and then Villarreal captain Raul Albiol’s decisive kick to clinch a 6-5 shootout victory in Belfast.
Recall that in February 2019 Kepa sparked controversy when he infamously refused to come off when then-manager Maurizio Sarri wanted to replace him for a Carabao Cup final shootout.
‘This was not spontaneous,’ Tuchel said of Kepa’s introduction. ‘We talked about it with the goalkeepers before my first cup game against Barnsley.
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‘We had some statistics that we prepared and they showed that Willy Caballero is the best in penalty defending and they analysed like a thousand penalties from Willy. Second best was Kepa and the third-best was Edou. The analysis and goalkeepers coaches introduced me to the data, we spoke to all three goalkeepers very open and told them this can happen in knockout games.
‘If we have a change left that we take this change not for personal reasons but to help the team, to improve the chances as we have this proof off statistic. It’s fantastic Edou accepts it. He puts his ego to one side when we take this decision and he is aware why we do this, this is the key. He knows it’s not a sudden idea of the manager.
‘There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline and these guys are team players. I’m happy for Kepa and Edou to have a goalkeeper like this who is not too proud to step out of the field and happy to take this for the team.’