This winter break is a good time to evaluate the players thus far and the chances of them returning next season. It does not look good for keepers.
The goalkeeper position is a truly strange one. While they are largely at the mercy of the defense in front of them, their performances are also largely graded by their personal stats that they only vicariously have a full influence on. How do Chelsea’s stack up thus far and what are the odds they come back next season?
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Spain
The season started off so right for Arrizabalaga. Yes, the defense kept leaving him hanging but when called to respond, he mostly did admirably. Until a point.
The longer the season has gone on, the more Arrizabalaga’s failings have stood out. He is too cautious to claim crosses. He is sloppy in his distribution more often than not. His reactions are often too slow or ill timed due to him being out of position.
During this January window, reports began to circulate that Arrizabalaga had the remainder of the season to make his case. But against Leicester he was dropped and Spanish sources are saying his time at Chelsea is basically done.
Arrizabalaga represented a huge investment for Chelsea, forced in part due to outside factors, that simply does not seem to be paying off. Every step forward for the keeper seems to be followed by three backwards. While the Spanish rumors seem sensationalist, they also do not seem outside of the realm of possibility either.
With the Euros coming up and Spain under new (but also old) management, Arrizabalaga will need to do something special to ward off contenders for club and country.
Performance so far: No longer good enough, or even okay enough, to avoid considering a new keeper in the summer.
Will he return next season: Almost certainly, but whether he is a starter or not is a truly open ended question.
Willy Caballero, Argentina
Caballero has thus far existed in a weird nonexistent space this season. Frank Lampard seemed hesitant to rotate his keeper much and that has left Caballero on the bench almost constantly.
When he has played, he has been the typical Caballero that can be expected. He is more than a little wild on and off the ball and sometimes that causes more issues than it solves. He is a good shot stopper, but his legs have other ideas on occasion.
It is incredibly noteworthy that Arrizabalaga was dropped for the Leicester match however. Either enough was enough for the Spaniard or Caballero did something truly spectacular to earn the chance. While he may have marginally been at fault for one of the goals, over all he did quite well.
But time is not on Caballero’s side. Nor are the metrics. With Arrizabalaga failing to impress, it is entirely possible that Chelsea hit the market for a new keeper. Arrizabalaga will be nearly impossible to move which would likely force Chelsea to clear Caballero out to make space. His contract is always short and it was bound to happen eventually.
Performances so far: Exactly what is expected from Caballero in goal.
Will he return next season: It is incredibly unlikely, if only because Arrizabalaga may take his spot as the number two unless something drastic changes.
How would you evaluate the keepers so far? Who do you think will return? Let us know in the comments and on Twitter!