Kepa Arrizabalaga has vowed to seize the chance of a “fresh start” at Chelsea after the appointment of Graham Potter.
The Spanish goalkeeper was dislodged as Chelsea’s first choice by Edouard Mendy when the Senegal international joined from Rennes in September 2020, and he has played a bit-part in the first team ever since.
Kepa played just 15 games last season, including two appearances as a substitute, but posted an impressive save percentage of 80.8, with Mendy managing just 70.8 per cent in his 49 games.
Mendy began this season as Thomas Tuchel’s preferred choice between the sticks, but the sacking of the German head coach and subsequent appointment of Potter may mean there is a clean slate.
Now Kepa is hoping there is a chance for him to assert himself as a contender to keep the jersey, after playing in back-to-back Champions League games due to Mendy being injured.
“Last season, when I played I felt really well, but it was just 15 games or something like this,” Kepa said, quoted on Chelsea’s website. “It’s not a big amount, so now when I have the opportunity, I try to do my best and to help the team like I do in the last games.
“I’m happy with my performances and happy again to enjoy the Champions League games on the pitch, so it’s a fresh start, and I’m happy, and I will take it.”
Chelsea have begun their European campaign with a 1-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb, followed by a home 1-1 draw with Salzburg in Potter’s first game, so results could be better.
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The Salzburg result on Wednesday was a blow, given Chelsea led their Austrian visitors but were pegged back by a Noah Okafor equaliser.
“There is frustration a little bit because we drew when we needed these points,” Kepa said, “but we are improving, and it’s just the beginning.”
The arrival of Potter from Brighton and Hove Albion has come at a time when Chelsea’s Premier League campaign has been put on hold, with fixtures against Fulham and Liverpool postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
It means the head coach must wait for his first league game at the helm, which should come at Crystal Palace on October 1. In the meantime, Potter is working behind the scenes on trying to lift the team.
Kepa said: “He is very positive in his mind, and he tries to give us this positivity. It’s been two or three training sessions with the new manager, so it’s just the beginning, but it’s been a positive beginning and a good point to start.”
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