Chelsea were 3-1 winners against Brighton in the Premier League as Timo Werner and Kai Havertz made their competitive debuts
Tuesday 15 September 2020 12:02, UK
Frank Lampard says he is "very happy" with Kepa Arrizabalaga but Gary Neville criticised his performance and says Chelsea will not win a league title with the Spaniard.
Leandro Trossard's 54th-minute equaliser from outside the area wriggled under the outstretched hands of Kepa, once again raising questions over whether he should remain as Chelsea's No 1.
The club are reportedly close to agreeing a deal to sign goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from French club Rennes, but Lampard backed Kepa following the Brighton win.
He told Sky Sports: "I am very happy with Kepa. With the shot, I'm not sure if he could have done any better but I saw a bit more confidence in how he was playing. Kepa is here, he is our 'keeper and I am happy with him.
"If we are bringing in competition it will be competition. That's the nature of Chelsea. That goes through the squad, so we'll see."
When asked if any more new signings are on the way, Lampard added: "Not at the moment. There are obviously some weeks to go until the end of the transfer window.
"We've got a big squad now as well so we have to manage that and look at how we move forward in terms of getting the right level of competition within the squad, but no news on that one at the minute."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville on Monday Night Football:
"I don't think he is [happy with Kepa]. I wouldn't be, but, yet I know full well, having been in a coaching position, been in a changing room, you have to back your goalkeeper. You must back your players, you have to support them publicly but privately that goal, it's a really poor goal to give away.
"He conceded so many goals from outside the box last season, he's conceded another one tonight and it will cost you. If you don't have a top goalkeeper, you won't win that league.
"At this moment in time he makes far too many mistakes. He lets too many goals into the back of his net that should be saved. 19 goals conceded from outside the box - that is a sorry story for a £70m goalkeeper.
"A few years ago, I used to be quite critical of Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet. 50 goals a season, but as soon as Alisson came everything became normal. It was the same at Manchester United in my time when we had that period between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar. As soon as Van der Sar came, it became normal.
"Same with Manchester City in Pep Guardiola's first season. Claudio Bravo kept letting goals in from everywhere and the save-to-shots ratio was poor. As soon as Ederson comes in, everything becomes really normal.
"If you don't have your goalkeeper right you are going to massively struggle to get where you need to get to. You certainly will never win a league.
"You will not win a league with a goalkeeper who is letting goals in from outside his box, doesn't dominate his area and concedes goals from set-pieces. It isn't going to happen.
"It's a stark warning. Frank Lampard knows this. He's played in championship-winning teams, he knows what he needs to do, he doesn't like the goalkeeper, he wants him out and he's going to bring a new one in because he knows Frank Lampard will be sacked as a manager if he doesn't win the league in the next two or three years.
"He's spent £200m so he's got to do it. Pep did it, Jurgen Klopp did it and Sir Alex Ferguson did it.
"Every manager of any salt will be harsh. He's got to be ruthless and do it for himself because that £70m, he wants to look after the club's money, he wants to try and get it back, but unfortunately, it's gone."
Sky Sports' Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football:
"Edouard Mendy has certainly got better numbers than Kepa. Unfortunately for Kepa, some of his numbers are the worst in the league.
"Whoever you bring in, it looks like it's going to be better. It's just whether you are talking about Ederson or Alisson level, and that's the level you need.
"Teams who win leagues, there is always a position the next summer, even when you've won the league, that you think you can improve. I can't ever remember a team, going back to the mid-80s, who won the league with an average goalkeeper.
"I go back to Neville Southall, David Seaman at Arsenal, Peter Schmeichel coming in the early 90s and Petr Cech. That Chelsea side had a lot of money spent on it but when Jose Mourinho came in, Cech came in and they just won leagues.
"It was the same with Liverpool and Manchester City. It will never change.
"If they bring Mendy in, is he at the level of the goalkeepers we are talking about? It's not just about being better than Kepa, that's not enough. It's got to be at the level of Ederson and Alisson, that's where Chelsea are."
Lampard was pleased with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz on their Premier League debuts, with the former in particular impressing, winning a penalty for Chelsea in the 21st minute.
The head coach believes the German's display was only a glimpse of what he can do, telling Sky Sports: "I love the way that Timo pops up in different areas.
"He's not a frontman who attaches to centre-backs so much. Sometimes he can start from a little bit deeper, but when he goes, he goes. We saw that with the burst of pace for the penalty, because I think the ball was slightly over-played and he still gets there.
"He has that about him and a real hunger to score goals and be ruthless in that area. I thought we saw a lot of signs from Timo tonight of what he's going to bring."
Havertz had a quieter evening on the south coast, having only trained with Chelsea for around a week, but Lampard was satisfied with what he saw.
"I liked Kai Havertz. It's not a game where you come away with some vintage moments, but I thought there were moments of quality and calmness," he said.
"It's a big ask, there's a lot on his shoulders because of the signing that he was and that he's a youngster coming to a different league, but you saw glimpses of what he can do. You also saw him sprint back 80 yards to make a defensive tackle having given the ball away.
"So, everything I have seen from him in terms of his character is spot on and his quality will come through. We're going to see a lot more from him, he's hugely-talented young player."
Up next for Chelsea is the visit of Liverpool to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, and Lampard says they are aiming to close the gap on the Premier League champions, who finished 33 points ahead of the Blues last term.
He said: "The difficulty for all of us, but particularly us, is we found ourselves so far behind Liverpool, because of the way they took on the first half of last season, that you were almost in a race that is far removed from being for first.
"We definitely want to close that gap to Liverpool, we have to have intentions, ideas that we are going to be up and around it, even though it is a big ask to win the Premier League.
"Liverpool and Manchester City have worked for a while to get teams that are full of individual talent and have a real team collective. We are behind in that process, it's step by step for us. The result against Brighton is a good feeling for us because it wasn't a great performance, but we've got the three points.
"If we get those points early, the confidence builds, there's more time to work with the team, players come back from injury and the new signings settle in, and hopefully we can make big strides.
"I won't make any big commitments now, but we certainly want to close that gap."
At times, Brighton were the better side during the Amex Stadium clash and had their fair share of chances and, overall, manager Graham Potter was pleased with what he saw.
"From our perspective, we performed quite well in the game. There are lots of positives for us in terms of the overall game, but we're disappointed to concede three goals," he told Sky Sports.
"I thought in the first half, we were probably the better team. We got the equaliser and were probably on the front foot, then the second goal is a bit of a blow. We had a good chance at 2-1 as well and it's just those fine little margins that ultimately against the big teams, you need to turn in your favour if you want to get a positive result.
"So in the end, we're happy with lots of things but disappointed with the three goals against and no points."
There was also an eye-catching performance from former Chelsea youth product Tariq Lamptey, with Potter adding: "Lamptey was fun to watch, I imagine. Such energy, such personality and his enthusiasm for the game is just wonderful. He's been like that for us since he came, he's still young and still has lots to learn but his approach to football is refreshing."