New keeper Kepa cruises through Chelsea debut as Blues win well at Huddersfield

Kepa Arrizabalaga made his Chelsea debut at Huddersfield, just days after becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

The 23-year-old signed a seven-year deal after completing his world-record £72.1million move from Athletic Bilbao as the Blues replaced Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois.

Kepa was thrust straight into the startling line-up on Saturday at Huddersfield and Football Paradise’s Simon Peach looked at how he got on in Chelsea’s 3-0 win.

Shot-stopping

Kepa did not make a save of note on his debut. Maurizio Sarri’s side bossed possession from the outset in West Yorkshire, where it took 20 minutes for Alex Pritchard to muster a shot on target – an attempt that was straight down the barrel and comfortably stopped. It was Huddersfield’s only shot on target in the opening period, but Kepa was relieved to see a Steve Mounie header off the post and eventually get cleared from danger. That was the biggest threat to Chelsea’s goal, with the Spain international comfortably dealing with headers from Philip Billing and Laurent Depoitre.

Distribution

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will have busier afternoons in his Blues career
Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga will have busier afternoons in his Blues career (Mike Egerton/PA)

At a time when there is an increasing need for goalkeepers to be capable footballers as well as shot-stoppers, Kepa looked composed on the ball but proved inaccurate with a number of his long passes. “How much?” screamed a Huddersfield fan when Kepa slashed a sixth-minute clearance, while his preference for a clipped ball to the hallway line was regularly cut out. Clearly capable on the ball, Kepa will need to work out what passes work best in English football.

Presence

Quick off his line when Mounie attempted to latch onto a through-ball early on, Huddersfield surprisingly did not use their physicality to put the new Chelsea goalkeeper under pressure. Balls tended to go away from Kepa than towards him, meaning he did not have to dominate the box and so much as claim a cross until the stroke of half-time.

Overall

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri must have liked what he saw
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri must have liked what he saw (Mike Egerton/PA)

The trip to the John Smith’s Stadium could well have been a baptism of fire given his inexperience and Huddersfield’s strength in the air. Yet Town were unable to turn promising moments into genuine threats and failed to give Kepa anything to worry about. It was as comfortable a debut as he could have wished for as N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Pedro goals sealed a 3-0 triumph.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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