Jamie Redknapp has criticised Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for his role in Everton's last gasp equalising goal at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Leading 2-1 at the time, the Blues allowed Ellis Simms space to run into in the final minute with the youngster scoring his first goal for the club to secure a valuable away point.
Kepa, who has been the first choice under Graham Potter, got a hand to the shot but failed to keep it out of the net as it squirmed past him. It's also not the first time in recent weeks that the Spaniard has been picked out.
Against Tottenham he was beaten from distance by Oliver Skipp's strike despite it not being in the top corner whilst Karim Adeyemi's solo goal in the Champions League may have been kept out had the keeper been more decisive when coming off his line.
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Only last week Patson Daka at Leicester fired in from outside the box at Kepa's near post. It is a streak of what may be referred to as 'half-mistakes' in this instance that has somewhat marred his resurgence this season. When it comes to shot-stopping Kepa rarely chucks the ball into his own goal or makes obvious errors but there are times when he is questioned.
From an aesthetic stance Kepa is smaller than most top level keepers and therefore has less natural reach, making attempts he faces look different from Edouard Mendy, who towers over opponents. Throughout this season alone there are comfortably half a dozen goals that could be greeted with quizzical looks towards the keeper without blaming him for it out and out.
Simms' finish was another of those. Had Chelsea shut off the space better then the run and pass wouldn't have been allowed. Kalidou Koulibaly, who had been near flawless until this point, then failed to stop him from getting a better angle in the box. Kepa was then the last port of call but couldn't stop the shot which was far from perfect or in the corner.
The stats read well in general for him this season, especially compared to the rest of his Chelsea career. Kepa's save percentage is the highest it has ever been on a season he has played more than seven games in. Likewise his goal against per90 is also the lowest in his professional career too.
He ranks second in the league for goals against per90 and top for save percentage, in a bad season for the club his clean sheet rate of 42.1% is the fourth highest of all Premier League keepers. He has saved 58 of the 72 shots against him, making some truly world class stops in there too.
Evidence of this comes from his post-shot xG differential. At 5.5 he has effectively stopped nearly six goals more than the metric would expect a keeper too. Only Alisson at Liverpool, with 10, has more. The issue for Kepa is the consistency of goals he concedes that simply don't look right.
It's something that has been highlighted before this season and Redknapp was on top of him again after full time. “The keeper is so poor [for the Simms goal]. He doesn’t make nearly enough saves… The keeper should do better," the pundit reflected. The numbers indicate that Kepa does in fact make enough saves but it's not the first time that he has been shot down for conceding a late goal.
Against Manchester United, in another 2-2 draw at home, Casemiro equalised in the last minute of stoppage time. Roy Keane responded to this by saying: "An amazing header. I look at my goalkeeper, if I can get a hand to it you can do a little bit more but the header - look at the desire. If you’re in the Chelsea dressing room, you’d be sick, I’d be disappointed for my goalkeeper."
Meanwhile former Everton keeper Tim Howard was in agreement. "Credit Casemiro, it's a good looping header. But I must say Kepa gets a full hand to the ball, he should be keeping that out," Howard said on NBC Sports in October.
"He should be steering that around the post, would've been a really good save and that is a tight, tight call."
Neither goal looked at first to be down to Kepa but for a club that has been blessed with the greatness of Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois and early form of Mendy, Kepa's inconsistency is still proving to be an issue.
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