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How Did Chelsea’s New Goalkeeper Fare In His Opening Game?



Kepa Arrizabalaga made his Chelsea debut in the Blues’ 3-0 win at Huddersfield, just days after becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

The Spaniard signed a seven-year deal after completing his world-record £72m move from Athletic Bilbao as the Blues replaced Thibaut Courtois, who left for Real Madrid.

He kept a clean sheet and had a straightforward opening performance, although tougher tests will await him as the season progresses.

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Kepa did not make a save of note on his debut. Maurizio Sarri’s side controlled possession from the outset in West Yorkshire, where it took 20 minutes for Alex Pritchard to muster a shot on target – an attempt that was straight down the barrel and comfortably stopped. It was Huddersfield’s only shot on target in the opening period, but Kepa was relieved to see a Steve Mounie header bounce off the post and eventually get cleared from danger. That was the biggest threat to Chelsea’s goal, with the Spain international comfortably dealing with headers from Philip Billing and Laurent Depoitre later on.

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At a time when there is an increasing need for goalkeepers to be capable footballers as well as shot-stoppers, Kepa looked composed on the ball, but proved inaccurate with a number of his long passes. “How much?” screamed a Huddersfield fan when Kepa slashed a sixth-minute clearance, while his preference for a clipped ball to the hallway line was regularly cut out. Clearly capable on the ball, Kepa will need to work out what passes work best in English football.

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Quick off his line when Mounie attempted to latch onto a through-ball early on, Huddersfield surprisingly did not use their physicality to put the new Chelsea goalkeeper under pressure. Balls tended to go away from Kepa than towards him, meaning he did not have to dominate the box and so much as claim a cross until the stroke of half-time.

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The trip to the John Smith’s Stadium could well have been a baptism of fire given his inexperience and Huddersfield’s strength in the air. Yet Town were unable to turn promising moments into genuine threats and failed to give Kepa anything to worry about. It was as comfortable a debut as he could have wished for. N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Pedro goals sealed a 3-0 triumph.

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