Lampard backs Arrizabalaga despite inconsistent displays
Frank Lampard refused to criticise Kepa Arrizabalaga over Newcastle’s winner but hinted that the goalkeeper could be more consistent.
Arrizabalaga, 25, failed to keep out Isaac Hayden’s injury-time header at St James’ Park to hand the Magpies all three points in a 1-0 victory.
Despite the Blues dominating possession, they could not find a way through and the west Londoners’ latest reverse means they have lost six of their past 11 top-flight games.
The Stamford Bridge outfit are still five points clear of the chasing pack in the race for the top four, although fifth-placed Manchester United do have a game in hand.
Arrizabalaga arrived at Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2018 for £71.6million, making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper and there is no question that he has generally lived up to his price tag.
However, the general consensus is that he should have been able to deal with Hayden’s glancing header at the weekend to earn his side a point on Tyneside.
Lampard was asked about the Spain international shot-stopper at Monday’s press conference and, while hinting that he is not faultless, refused to kick the player while he is down.
“I will always defend all the players, goalkeepers hold their hands up as well,” he said. “At times he has made good saves, at times he might feel he should do better.
“He is a good goalkeeper. There have been times that he has saved us points.”
Arrizabalaga has conceded 30 Premier League goals from 23 appearances this term – the highest number among the current top-four clubs – and will have another chance to keep a clean sheet when Arsenal come calling on Tuesday evening.
The Gunners have scored just six goals in their last seven top-flight encounters and drew 1-1 with Sheffield United on Saturday.