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Why Kepa Arrizabalaga is prepared for his time to shine – The Athletic

This is the moment the world’s most expensive goalkeeper has been waiting for.

Now that Edouard Mendy is with the Senegal squad at the Africa Cup of Nations, Kepa Arrizabalaga is going to get his first regular run in the Chelsea team for 18 months.

Mendy will be absent for over five weeks in total should Senegal reach the tournament’s final on Sunday, February 6 and Kepa’s involvement comes at a crucial point in Chelsea’s season.

Thomas Tuchel’s side have been struggling for consistency of late and face two massive Premier League games this month against current leaders Manchester City and London rivals and fellow top-four contenders Tottenham. The results of those matches will surely determine whether they are still in the title race when Mendy returns or will be relegated to battling for Champions League qualification.

There should also be two one-off FA Cup ties while Mendy is away — presuming Chelsea beat visiting National League side Chesterfield in the third round today (Saturday) — plus Wednesday’s second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final away to Spurs, where Chelsea go in with a 2-0 lead.

For a significant section of Chelsea fans, the scenario sparks feelings of anxiety and concern. Kepa, 27, hasn’t justified the £71.6 million transfer fee paid to Spain’s Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2018.

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