Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has explained that Kepa Arrizabalaga’s superior penalty statistics was the reason he was substituted onto the pitch in place of Edouard Mendy.
The former Athletic Club stopper was introduced in virtually the final minute of extra-time, with the game heading towards a penalty shootout showdown to decide the winner.
In the end, it was an inspired choice from the German as Kepa saved both Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol’s efforts to claim the Super Cup for Chelsea at Windsor Park.
Despite that, it was a somewhat perplexing decision at the time with the much-criticised Spaniard having not quite been inspiring when facing shots from the penalty spot so far in his Chelsea career.
However, Tuchel explained that statistics generated by his goalkeeping analysts showed that the 26-year-old is currently the best penalty saver at Stamford Bridge.
Talking in his press conference after leading the Blues to the second trophy of his reign, he said: “Of course, I mentioned since I arrived that we have an unbelievable amount of quality in our support structure at the club. This is one of our examples.
“When we arrived in my first cup game against Barnsley, we had this talk with the goalkeeping coaches and the analysis department who came up with these statistics that Willy Caballero is the best in penalty saving from thousands of them, second best was Kepa and third best in Edou in this statistic.
“We spoke to the goalkeepers openly that it can be like this in a situation like today that we take this change, not for personal reasons, but to help the team’s chances because we have this statistic.”
Meanwhile, whilst the alteration was a surprise to supporters at the time, Tuchel also revealed that it was a pre-planned move, while also praising Mendy’s professionalism in accepting the decision.
“Willy [Caballero] is not here anymore in the three. It showed all the fantastic spirit that they accept it and have no problem,” the German continued.
“When you see Mendy put his ego aside when we take this decision, and he is aware, this is key, why we do it. This is not a feeling and just a sudden idea of the manager.
“This was planned and openly discussed with the goalkeepers and I am very happy that they showed this team spirit that Edou was fine to take this for the team. You still need luck but everyone knows how it is. Thanks to the support and luck, Kepa could show and prove his quality.”