Such are the growing number of problems currently facing Chelsea it was telling that in the immediate aftermath of Monday night’s defeat to Manchester United there was no mention of Willy Caballero starting instead of Kepa Arrizabalaga between the posts.
Frank Lampard fielded questions about the Champions League race, another home defeat, his team’s struggles up front, Michy Batshuayi’s brittle confidence and the reasons Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has gotten the better of him on three occasions.
But there was no mention of his decision to continue with a 38-year-old veteran instead of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.
“[Kepa’s] reaction has been as good as I would expect,” Lampard had said on Friday before explaining that he had already decided who would start against United. It seemed at that point that he would revert to the £72million man.
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Dropping Kepa for the visit to Leicester City at the beginning of the month was one thing; leaving him out here following a winter break in which the head coach said that he was impressed by his reaction in training was a whole new other domain.
Beyond Chelsea, Monday also felt like a significant night for the 25-year-old’s weakening claim to be Spain’s first-choice goalkeeper as he watched his compatriot on the opposite side, David De Gea, keep a clean sheet.
It seems unlikely that he would be Spain’s No1 come the European Championship if he remains out of favour at Stamford Bridge.
Those keenly observing from Kepa’s home country have been perplexed by Lampard’s ruthless decision but Caballero, who is out of contract in four months and yet to decide if he will retire, now seems certain to continue between the posts for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
And yet Caballero has hardly been outstanding. He went walkabout for Leicester’s second goal, even though Lampard would not single him out…