Sky Sports' Paul Merson: "I just think it's a dangerous game to play, that you've planned the sub before. That was the best game I've seen Mendy have for Chelsea - he was outstanding - so why would you change your goalie? I can't remember him [Kepa] getting near a penalty"
Wednesday 6 April 2022 11:06, UK
Paul Merson says Chelsea would have won the Carabao Cup if Edouard Mendy had not been replaced by Kepa Arrizabalaga for the penalty shootout.
With the Blues drawing 0-0 with Liverpool towards the end of extra-time at Wembley on Sunday, Thomas Tuchel made the decision to replace his first-choice goalkeeper as penalties loomed.
Kepa has developed a reputation as a penalty specialist, and came off the bench to save two spot-kicks in Chelsea's European Super Cup victory in August.
But the plan failed this time, with the Spaniard unable to save any of Liverpool's 11 penalties, before he blazed the deciding kick over the bar to hand the trophy to Jurgen Klopp's side.
Sky Sports pundit Merson believes Tuchel was playing a "dangerous game" by pre-determining the substitution, while he also looks ahead to what the rest of the season has in store for Chelsea and Liverpool.
Read on for the Magic Man's column in full...
I just think it's a dangerous game to play, that you have planned the sub before. This has been planned before the start of the game.
That was the best game I have seen Mendy have for Chelsea - he was outstanding - so why would you change your goalie? He's playing the game of his life, red hot, can't beat him, and you go and change it?
It's easy to say after the game but, when it gets to penalties, there's only one person that's not under pressure and that's the goalie. The goalie has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The players are the ones who have got everything on their shoulders.
As soon as he comes on it swaps completely round the other way. All the pressure's on him and nobody else, and that was the problem. It happened three years ago when he refused to come off - all the pressure was on him that day and it was on him again.
I just couldn't work it out. Chelsea would be Carabao Cup winners if Mendy was in goal. I can't remember him [Kepa] getting near a penalty. Salah goes to the left all the time and he [Kepa] went the other way. The [Virgil] van Dijk one - he was standing on that side of the goal and he still never got near it. Have a rough idea what you are coming up against. Do your homework.
Mendy's come to Chelsea, he's won everything and, at the end of the day, he's had the game of his life. He was 10/10, he was absolutely outstanding, so he is not going to be sitting there thinking anything because he played well.
The penalties, some of them were mind-blowing. You have got to remember, when seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11 are coming up, they have not in their wildest dreams thought they were taking a penalty.
People have got to remember it's like nothing else. You are walking from the halfway line, it's different from taking a penalty in the Premier League. That walk is just so, so different. I've done it enough times.
Particularly when you are Chelsea and you're taking a penalty just to stay in it, that takes some doing. In front of the Liverpool fans, fair play to them.
But I don't like penalties and I don't like goalkeepers taking penalties.
Havertz has always got to play. Havertz is one of Chelsea's best players. People forget he is class. He knits things together. He's a Rolls Royce, he glides round the pitch.
He doesn't do the hustle and bustle, winning 50/50 tackles and all the kind of stuff.
People think he's a bit lazy, but he's a Rolls Royce. Different class, and he always has to play.
I watched the game on Sunday and those two are not going to be a million miles away from winning the Champions League. They have got the best two defences in Europe and if you want to win Champions League football over two legs, you need to keep clean sheets.
I think those teams have the ammunition going forward. People will say, 'well, it was a 0-0', but it was not a 0-0 game was it? It was outstanding. Great goalkeeping, great defending, good centre-forward play. Not great finishing, but it just showed me that both teams are bang in there for the Champions League.
One of them two [will win it]. They are so good at the back. I watch Man City and they will give you a chance.
I think Liverpool have got more chance of winning the Champions League than the Premier League. They can lose three more matches in the Champions League and still win it, but if they lose three Premier League games they have got no chance. They have got no leeway in the Premier League.