Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has launched a passionate defence of under-fire goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, while insisting new signing Edouard Mendy has settled in well at the club.
Arrizabalaga, 25, has drawn widespread criticism in recent weeks after making costly mistakes in the Blues’ opening two Premier League fixtures against Brighton and Liverpool.
As a result, Lampard dropped him to the bench in Saturdays’ 3-3 draw away at West Brom, instead opting for back-up shot-stopper Willy Caballero in between the sticks.
And Mendy’s £22million arrival from Rennes last week has plunged Arrizabalaga’s future at Stamford Bridge into doubt.
Yet when asked if he has played his last game for Chelsea, Lampard leapt to the Spaniard’s defence and bemoaned the “unfair” criticism he has been subjected to.
“I certainly won’t go to that point of playing his last game,” the Blues manager said ahead of their trip to Tottenham in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday.
“It’s been a difficult time for Kepa, that’s been well documented. I know it and he knows it. But we shouldn’t jump to that conclusion.
“What I’ve felt strongly about over the last week is that he’s a young man, and some of the spotlight on him has become slightly unfair.
“I have to protect him because I know he's a good guy who always tries to do his best.”
Mendy, who put pen to paper on a five-year deal in west London last Thursday, was not included in Chelsea’s squad for their trip to the Hawthorns over the weekend.
The Senegal goalkeeper could be handed his debut against Spurs, however, after making a good first impression in training.
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“Mendy has settled in very well and he’s been made to feel welcome, as we do with any new player coming in,” Lampard said.
“It’s all very positive and he’s a good goalkeeper, he comes in and he will add that strong competition that we require in each position.”
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