Potter impressed with ‘character’ shown by Chelsea star who had to fight for his place in the team

Ben Stewart
Graham Potter before a training session

Graham Potter has been impressed with Kepa Arrizabalaga since his arrival and how he has fought for his place in the starting 11.

Prior to Potter’s arrival, Kepa’s opportunities under Thomas Tuchel has been fairly few and far between.

The Spanish goalkeeper only made four Premier League appearances throughout the entirety of last season. After signing for a fee of around £70million back in 2018, Kepa struggled to adapt during his debut season.

His inconsistent start prompted Chelsea to splash out on Edouard Mendy, who then took the number one spot.

When asked about his decision to give Kepa the nod, Potter explained (via Football London): “It’s better to let football decide (on who is the number one).

“Kepa has done really well and been fantastically supported by Edou and Betts. Kepa’s form is really pleasing for everybody.

“I’ve been really impressed with his character, personality, understands the game well, takes responsibility.”

Kepa had a tremendous performance against Aston Villa as Chelsea held on for a 2-0 victory.

Potter tends to favour goalkeepers who are good with the ball at their feet and so that is perhaps why Kepa initially got the nod.

Since arriving at Chelsea, Mendy has been an excellent signing but even his levels dropped at the start of the season.

Potter has been able to install a new defensive resilience into his Chelsea side.

Across his first six matches, Chelsea have only conceded two goals. They have also managed to keep clean sheets in four consecutive matches now.

Potter added: “It’s a credit to the players, you can’t defend with a settled four or five because the games are relentless and challenges are huge.

“It’s about the togetherness of the squad. If you’re prepared to suffer, you give yourself a chance to get a clean sheet and win.”

After their inconsistent start, Chelsea are now back in the top four and have looked good under Potter so far.

Next up for his side is a midweek game against Brentford, who Potter isn’t taking lightly.

The Chelsea manager explained: “Brentford are really good at what they do, Thomas has done a really good job. They make the most out of what they have, credit to Thomas and everyone at Brentford.

“They use Ivan Toney well, attack with clarity and defend with organisation.

“They align the resources really cleverly. The way they play fits the players they have. Set plays very dangerous. Ivan Toney is as dangerous as anybody in the league. They have a spirit and understanding, really well motivated and organised. Credit to Thomas.”

Chelsea have averaged 2.11 points per game this season and are projected to finish on 80 points as things stand.

For context, they finished with 74 points and finished third in the table last season.

If Chelsea can continue to improve at their current rate, the sky is the limit for Potter.

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