Kepa Arrizabalaga Chelsea 2019-20Getty Images

'Ambitious' Kepa took Chelsea axe in his stride and targets Premier League title challenge

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga says he wasn’t overly fazed when he was dropped by Frank Lampard earlier this season.

The Spaniard missed four Premier League games in January and February, replaced in the starting XI by Willy Caballero after a string of unconvincing performances.

Lampard clearly expected more from the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, signed from Athletic Club for £72 million ($92m) two years ago.

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Kepa returned to the side for Chelsea’s last game before lockdown, and has kept his place since – though he hasn’t yet kept a clean sheet since the season resumed.

"The manager is there to choose what he considers the best XI," Kepa told Sky Sports News.

"Whenever you are left out of the side, you take it in the spirit it is intended. You put it down to experience, a fresh experience in your life, and you just keep working hard.

"I'm ambitious and I've always had the attitude that through hard work and training hard you are ready for the next challenge."

Chelsea were shocked 3-2 by West Ham in their last game, but there remains a sense of optimism around the club.

Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech will arrive before next season, while the Blues are in talks with Willian over a new contract for the Brazilian.

Lampard is hoping his side can begin to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City, and Kepa harbours the same ambition.

"Let's hope we are talking in a year's time and that we are candidates to challenge those two teams,” he said.

"We have a great squad and we have a great manager. We can't deny the gap, in points, between us and the top two, but I'm confident we can close that gap next season.

"We know we need to improve, but it is a hope we all have. There's a confidence that it is possible.

“We feel strong mentally and very fit physically, and we hope for an end of season that is great, positive and can be celebrated.

"There's a good spirit about how we've been playing. And individually I feel good. I want to help the team achieve its targets."