African All Stars

'Mendy remains Chelsea’s first choice' – Keeper backed by Akinroyeje after Arrizabalaga heroics

14:34 EAT 12/08/2021
Mendy Kepa Chelsea Villarreal Supercup
The Senegalese star has been backed to maintain his place in Thomas Tuchel’s starting XI despite the Spaniard’s showing against the Yellow Submarine

Edouard Mendy will remain Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper despite Kepa Arrizabalaga’s superb display against Villarreal, claims former Sunshine Stars keeper Olumide Akinroyeje.

With the Uefa Super Cup heading to penalties, the Senegal international was subbed off for the Spaniard to play in goal during the shootout.

Thomas Tuchel’s decision proved to be a masterstroke, as Arrizabalaga saved kicks from Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol – to help the Stamford Bridge giants win their first silverware of the 2021-22 campaign.

Nonetheless, Akinroyeje states the Spain international’s brilliance does not automatically relegate the ex-Rennes star to the bench.

“Kepa [Arrizabalaga] was brave to have saved two Villarreal penalties and that is not a pointer that he would stroll back as Chelsea’s first-choice,” Akinroyeje told Goal.

“As it stands [Edouard] Mendy remains the first choice at Stamford Bridge and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

“Since his arrival from Rennes, he has brought consistency to the Chelsea backline line and played a key role in the team’s Champions League win. So, it would be irrational to have him not sit on the bench because someone saved two kicks.

“What this means is that Mendy should work harder in training so that he can be counted on when it comes to penalty situations.”

Mendy caused a stir in the 52nd minute when he slipped while taking a goal-kick. The ball landed at the feet of Yeremi Pino, teed up Gerard Moreno whose low strike could not find the target.

The Turkey-based goalkeeper does not see that as a sign of complacency on Mendy’s part blaming the quality of the pitch in Belfast.

“No it’s not [complacency],” he continued. “Things like that happen in football and as a goalkeeper, I experience that on numerous occasions.

“I am glad he made amends to save that but I won’t say he was overconfident. It was just about the quality of the field.

“Remember, that [Marcos] Alonso also slipped when taking his own penalty.

“That being said, he must keep working hard so that there would not be any course to question his ability.”

The reigning European champions begin their Premier League campaign with a home fixture against Crystal Palace on Saturday.