Kepa Arrizabalaga justifies his Chelsea recall with superb performance against Fulham

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Football News

Chelsea kept themselves in the race for a top-four finish thanks to a 2-1 win over neighbours Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon.

The Blues started the afternoon five points behind fourth-placed Manchester United and four points behind fifth-placed Arsenal - albeit with two games in hand over both clubs - and could ill-afford to slip up against the Cottagers.

However, Maurizio Sarri’s side made it two wins from two - following their 2-0 victory over Tottenham on Wednesday - thanks to first-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Jorginho.

Higuain opened the scoring in the 20th minute before Calum Chambers equalised for the hosts.

But Jorginho’s fabulous placed-shot from the edge of the box sealed all three points for the Blues.

However, Chelsea may not have won the match without their first-choice goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who returned to the starting line-up after being dropped against Spurs by Sarri.

The 24-year-old paid the price for his ‘refusal’ to be substituted during last weekend’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City by being dropped to the bench.

He was also fined a weeks’ wages - £190,000 - for the incident, which was branded a ‘misunderstanding’ by Sarri in the aftermath of the final.

Chelsea v Manchester City - Carabao Cup Final

Willy Caballero kept a clean sheet against Spurs but returned to the bench against Fulham as Kepa was handed an opportunity to redeem himself.

And he did just that, producing a superb individual performance for the Blues.

Kepa pulled off this fine reaction stop from Aleksandar Mitrović in the first half.

David de Gea would have been proud of that save.

And right at the death, he thwarted the Serbian striker again with another top save.

Shortly after that stop, Match of the Day host Gary Lineker cheekily tweeted: “Another excellent save from Kepa. Totally justified selecting himself today.”

Match of the Day then revealed on Twitter that Kepa had made four saves against Fulham - a tally he’s only managed to better on two other occasions in the Premier League this season.

Towards the end of the match, Chelsea fans - many of whom were furious with the Spanish ‘keeper after his antics last Sunday - were chanting: "It's Kepa, you know, better than Thibaut."

It seems he’s now back in everyone’s good books.

Kepa Arrizabalaga
Maurizio Sarri
Willy Caballero
Premier League

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