Gary Neville: Chelsea FC won’t challenge unless they replace this player

Gary Neville says Chelsea FC won't challenge for the league title with Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal

Transfer Agent
By Transfer Agent
Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard (Photo: The Sport Review)

Chelsea FC won’t challenge Liverpool FC or Manchester City for the title this season unless Frank Lampard is able to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga, according to Gary Neville.

The Blues were 3-1 winners against Brighton in their Premier League opener at the Amex Stadium on Monday night to hoist the west London side into second position in the table behind Arsenal.

Goals from Jorginho, Reece James and Kurt Zouma sealed a comfortable win for the west London side as Lampard’s side look to justify their heavy investment this summer with a title challenge.

Kepa is still facing questions about his long-term future at Stamford Bridge and the world’s most expensive goalkeeper received some criticism for his attempt to stop Leandro Trossard’s shot.

The Brighton midfielder’s shot squirmed underneath Kepa’s outstretched arm to prompt further scrutiny of the Spain international amid speculation linking Chelsea FC with a host of goalkeeper in the 2020 summer transfer window.

Lampard dropped Kepa last season after the £71m signing struggled for form but the Spanish shot-stopper has started the new campaign as the Chelsea FC manager’s first-choice goalkeeper.

Sky Sports pundit Neville doesn’t believe Chelsea FC can mount a genuine title challenge if Lampard persists with Kepa in goal.

“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,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“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.”

Chelsea FC made Kepa the most expensive goalkeeper in the world when they signed the Spanish shot-stopper in a £71.4m deal from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, surpassing the £67m that Liverpool FC paid for Alisson Becker.

The Blues will face Liverpool FC in their next Premier League game on Sunday.

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