‘This was not spontaneous’: Thomas Tuchel reveals Chelsea have known their order for goalkeepers in penalty shootouts since his FIRST cup game at the club after Kepa Arrizabalaga replaced Edouard Mendy in the last minute of extra time
Thomas Tuchel’s extra-time goalkeeping substitution proved an inspired one as Kepa Arrizabalaga saved two penalties to help Chelsea beat Villarreal and add the UEFA Super Cup to their Champions League triumph.
Kepa was Chelsea’s hero after being brought on in the final minute of the added half hour just for the spot-kicks.
Kepa saved Villarreal’s second attempt with his first meaningful touch and then Villarreal captain Raul Albiol’s decisive kick to clinch a 6-5 shootout victory in Belfast.
Kepa Arrizabalaga came off the bench to save two penalties in Chelsea’s Super Cup victory
Chelsea players celebrate with the Spaniard after their shootout victory over Villarreal
In February 2019 Kepa sparked controversy when he infamously refused to come off when then manager Maurizio Sarri wanted to replace him for a Carabao Cup final shootout.
But Edouard Mendy had no such issues and Chelsea prevailed to lift the Super Cup for the second time in the club’s history.
‘This was not spontaneous,’ Tuchel said of Kepa’s introduction. ‘We talked about it with the goalkeepers before my first cup game against Barnsley.
‘We had some statistics that we prepared and they showed that Willy Caballero is the best in penalty defending and they analysed like a thousand penalties from Willy.
‘Second best was Kepa and third best was Edou.
‘The analysis and goalkeepers coaches introduced me to the data, we spoke to all three goalkeepers very open and told them this can happen in knockout games.
‘If we have a change left that we take this change not for personal reasons but to help the team, to improve the chances as we have this proof off statistic.
Thomas Tuchel revealed he has known his shootout order since his first cup game at the club
‘It’s fantastic Edou accepts it. He puts his ego to one side when we take this decision and he is aware why we do this, this is the key. He knows it’s not a sudden idea of the manager.
‘There is proof that Kepa is better in this discipline and these guys are team players. I’m happy for Kepa and Edou to have a goalkeeper like this who is not too proud to step out of the field and happy to take this for the team.’
Kepa said: ‘It’s not a normal situation but I was ready because I knew that this can happen and I tried to be ready mentally and physically.’
Mendy said: ‘Of course I’m happy because we won and we work for this success. I knew since last year that if Kepa comes on the pitch he will help the team. He did today so I’m really happy with Kepa.
Tuchel said that Edouard Mendy accepted being replaced by Kepa for the shootout
‘It is a team work and team effort and when you play for Chelsea you play for success and you play for titles. We did this today, together and we are happy.’
Chelsea led through Hakim Ziyech, who came off with a shoulder injury before half time.
Tuchel said: ‘If you take a player out during the first half it is serious. Unfortunately he was a very good player for us.’
Villarreal talisman Gerard Moreno equalised to force extra time and the two sides could not be separated until Kepa’s dramatic sudden death intervention.
Chelsea begin their Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace on Saturday and Tuchel added: ‘Mentally this is a good one [victory] but physically [extra time] is the worst that can happen. But victory and a trophy helps to regenerate but we have to be careful now.’
Chelsea hope to have Romelu Lukaku in their ranks by the time they face Palace. He landed in England last night as he edged a step closer to finalising his £98m club record move to re-join Chelsea.
Kepa refused to come on for a penalty shootout in the 2019 Carabao Cup final defeat