The Blues boss pointed to “difficult times” when asked why the 10-cap Spain international has been relegated to the bench
Willy Caballero has been selected ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga to start Chelsea‘s crunch Premier League clash with Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
Frank Lampard has opted for a change in goal, however, with regular understudy Caballero preferred to Kepa.
“Just a choice, Kepa’s had some difficult times so I am playing Willy,” Lampard told Sky Sports.
Indeed, Arrizabalaga has never been far from the headlines after moving to London, with the 25-year-old famously disobeying former boss Maurizio Sarri during last season’s Carabao Cup final, refusing the come off the pitch despite the Italian boss tried to replace him.
The shot-stopper has been linked with a move away from Chelsea throughout this season, with the Blues keen on Atletico Madrid‘s ever-reliable Jan Oblak, who would command €120 million (£110m/$137.5m) fee as per his release clause.
Lampard had previously challenged Kepa to up his game, telling a press conference: “I think clearly you want them to be talented, to keep balls out of the net. It’s old-school but it’s the first and foremost job in what a goalkeeper should keep closest to their heart.
“The idea of clean sheets, it’s not always culpable on them, of course, for a ‘keeper to have a real desire and talent to produce that.
“But in the modern day they are even more involved than ever. To use their feet, to be a personality, all-round ability which you see with the top level goalkeepers in the world.
“We were fortunate to see at Chelsea that we had ones we can certainly say were part of huge eras for the club. That has to be Kepa’s desire, to be that person for this club and be a goalkeeper in his own right to say that he’s a huge part of a successful team.
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“It’s not just on Kepa, of course, but in his own way that is what he has to believe and work towards.”
Kepa has made 33 Premier League appearances this season, having been previously dropped to the bench for a run of four league matches in February, when Caballero was preferred.
The 38-year-old Argentina international failed to keep a clean sheet during that period and has not featured in the Premier League since, although he has played four of Chelsea’s five games en route to the FA Cup final.