The goalkeeping position has been difficult for the London Blues to replace ever since legendary player Petr Cech left the team in 2015 following an amazing 11-year tenure.
Goalkeepers over the years
Asmir Begovic and Thibaut Courtois initially split duties between the goalie posts, but both would leave the team in the next two years, with the latter departing under dubious circumstances to join La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid. The world’s most expensive custodian, at the time 24 years old Kepa Arrizabalaga, arrived in the summer of 2018.
The Spaniard’s £72 million price tag was largely to blame for the few missteps that marred his tenure with the team and were frequently scrutinised by the media and supporters. The most well-known of those instances occurred during his rookie season at the club when he objected to being replaced by Caballero during the 2019 EFL Cup Final matchup with Manchester City.
Chelsea lost 4–3, and manager Maurizio Sarri penalised him a week’s pay despite his one-point save. He would remain the undisputed No. 1 for the Blues until 2021.
Both of those players, though, are no longer with the team. Mendy was sent to Saudi Arabia due to his subpar play the previous season, and Kepa is loving his loan move with Real Madrid, even teasing that he might like to stay there permanently now that he has played his final Chelsea game.
Robert Sanchez, who was signed this summer and has so far mostly avoided incidents. Is now under pressure to wear the No. 1 shirt. The player has drawn criticism for making several questionable decisions. One such choice was a sloppy pass that let Declan Rice put the Gunners back in the game. Which ultimately finished in a 2-2 draw.
London Blues ahead of January window
Amidst speculations that the Blues were considering adding another custodian in January. Manager Mauricio Pochettino remained unwavering in his backing of the 25-year-old early in the year. The manager of the Blues told reporters, “We are seeing too many mistakes in different leagues and different countries.”
“He is really calm and at ease. He is excellent. We are probably there to try and assist. He’s calm, we’re assisting him. He and we both understand that in football, errors happen, and the team as a whole bears the blame. The first people to convey our desired style of play are the coaches.
Blaming someone else means blaming me, not him. He is giving us everything we need, yet it is possible to miss a pass or a penalty.”
However, Cech moves forward in his own life while his old team attempts to make progress. He was recently transferred on loan to Belfast Giants of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) from Oxford City Stars of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL). He retired from football and took up ice hockey, quickly becoming a regular in the sport.
But back at the Blues, Pochettino will still have to figure out the custodian position during his time at Stamford Bridge. Only time will tell if Sanchez receives the support of those in positions of authority or if he is benched in January in favour of a different choice, but a decision needs to be made soon.