Kepa responds to reports he wanted to leave Chelsea, says ““with Lampard there had been no problem”

Despite reports that he was angling for a move away from Chelsea last summer, Kepa Arrizabalaga has stated that it never crossed his mind to leave Stamford Bridge.

The Spain international lost his place in the Chelsea line-up as former manager Frank Lampard made Edouard Mendy his No1 choice between the sticks after his move from Rennes.

Kepa has insisted that he never had any issue with Lampard over his decisions, accepting that his performances over the last year for Chelsea have been well below the standard expected.

However, despite the efforts to replace and move on Kepa, who was handed a start and kept a clean sheet against Newcastle on Monday, the Spaniard has not considered leaving himself.

Kepa told Tiempo de Juego: “I have never thought about leaving Chelsea.

“In my very good [first] season we won the Europa League, qualified for the Champions League, and I was playing for the national team. The second year we changed coaches.

“With Lampard there had been no problem. I haven’t given my best version [and] it is true that I have not played how I wanted to play.”

While Kepa was given his chance in the win against Newcastle this week, Mendy will be back in goal when the Blues visit Southampton in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Asked about his No1 following the win on Monday, Tuchel said: “Edou is the No1. This is clear and was before the game. It stays like this. I’m very happy Kepa continued with a second clean sheet. It was the moment to let him feel the rhythm and build up his confidence. Edou will be in goal from now on. He recovered mentally and physically.”

Chelsea loanee Kenedy on fire as he scores one goal, sets up another in two minutes to give Granada victory over Napoli

Granada secured an excellent 2-0 victory over Serie A side Napoli in the last 32 first-leg of the Europa League at Los Carmenes on Thursday evening after Kenedy scored one and set up another in just two minutes.

The Partenopei had only 12 senior outfield players available for this trip, as injuries ruled out key players on the Serie A side.

Eljif Elmas volleyed over on a corner at the back post, but Granada caused a lot of problems down the right with Kenedy and then Foulquier bursting into the box.

It was a warning, but not heeded, because after a couple of corners, the hosts took the lead. Kenedy curled a great ball to the back post for Yangel Herrera to surprise Giovanni Di Lorenzo with a header.

Barely 90 seconds later, Napoli had tried to go on the attack, but were caught cold by a rapid Darwin Machis counter, setting up Chelsea-owned Kenedy for the precise daisy-cutter angled drive.

Mario Rui’s cross-shot flashed just past both Victor Osimhen and the far post, while an audacious Molina back-heel flick was charged down from six yards.

Lorenzo Insigne was visibly not fit and Osimhen wasted an opportunity when hitting the side-netting rather than pulling back for his teammates.

Insigne scuffed a volley, but was offside anyway, and Mario Rui was fortunate Kenedy’s cross was wayward after catching him in possession.

There were signs of life from Napoli with Piotr Zielinski’s introduction, but the Poland international fired over and Osimhen got in Elmas’ way on a Fabian Ruiz through ball.

The Partenopei took the initiative as the game wore on, but again a lack of communication was costly, as Amir Rrahmani nodded a free kick over when he should’ve left it for Osimhen.

Zielinski wasted another good opportunity with a rash effort and Nikola Maksimovic made a decisive block on Antonio Puertas after a counter-attack.

Osimhen’s half-volley on the turn from a dinked free kick was too sluggish to beat Rui Silva. Yet despite all their possession, Napoli risked conceding a third in stoppages, Alex Meret getting down to palm Yangel Herrera’s effort round the base of the near post.

Granada: Rui Silva; Foulquier, Duarte, Vallejo, Neva (Victor Diaz 78); Gonalons (Brice 78), Herrera; Machis (Puertas 70), Montoro, Kenedy (Soro 70); Molina

Napoli: Meret, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Maksimovic, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Lobotka (Bakayoko 64); Politano (Zielinski 46), Elmas, Insigne; Osimhen.

Photo Credit: GranadaCdeF/Twitter

Thomas Tuchel provides injury updates on Thiago Slva, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham ahead of Southampton clash

Thomas Tuchel has revealed that Thiago Silva is set to miss the game against Southampton, adding that Christian Pulisic is unlikely to travel.

Speaking during his pre-match press conference via video link, the Chelsea boss said he could not be completely sure about the condition of all the players ahead of the game.

But he was, however, sure there was no chance of Thiago Silva being involved yet.

“Thiago will be out for the game,” revealed Tuchel. “He’s not ready.”

The Brazilian has not featured since coming off early in our win at Tottenham at the start of the month. Meanwhile, Christian Pulisic was also a doubt after reporting a tight calf in training on Thursday.

Kai Havertz, who has missed the past four games, and Tammy Abraham, who injured his leg last time out against Newcastle, were considered likely to be available for selection.

“We have some issues with the calf of Pulisic,” added Tuchel.

“It’s nothing big, it just feels tight and a bit of a risk.

“Tammy feels very good. He is free for training today and, if things go well, he’s in the squad. Kai Havertz has been training as well and will join us at Southampton.’

“We are not concerned or worried but the medical department is on that. Now we have some little issues in the calf and he stopped training yesterday before it became an injury so I would not say that it is an injury at the moment. It’s risk management that relates to his history of having injuries so we do not want to enter in the same cycle.

“It’s sometimes like this and the main thing for Christian is to stay positive, keep his head up and be ready because he can have a big impact when he starts and he can have a big impact when he comes from the bench with his intensity.

“Chelsea bought Christian for a reason, for his quality and his potential so it’s our job to bring out the best in him. He proved in many weeks that he has the level to be a Chelsea regular player, to have a big impact at this club and it’s a challenge now to maintain the level and to keep improving.”

Photo Credit: ChelseaFC/Twitter

Fikayo Tomori compares Premier League, Serie A, opens up on Thomas Tuchel, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Chelsea loanee Fikayo Tomori has identified the differences between Premier League and Serie A, and expressed his delight to train along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at AC Milan.

The English defender joined the Serie A giants on loan from Chelsea in January and made his debut with the Diavoli only a few days after his arrival in a Coppa Italia derby clash.

“Here it’s a lot more tactical, there’s a lot more thinking going on and a lot more positional awareness,” Tomori told Sky Sports UK.

“In England the game is a lot faster. Like when a goalkeeper catches a ball then suddenly you have strikers and wingers bombing up the pitch, here it’s a bit more structured and a bit slower.

“There’s a lot more instances when you’re 1 v 1 and you have to be aware of where the ball is, where you have to be standing at a specific moment in relation to the ball. That kinda stuff is different and it takes time to get used to.

“In England it’s always been a big game, and to make my debut in that game at the San Siro, it was a dream come true.”

The Chelsea loanee has now the opportunity to train along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. What’s his relationship with the Swede?

“He’s been great with me, he has a big personality and he’s a legend in the game. He’s a leader and you hear his voice on the pitch, in training and it’s not in a bad way, it’s all in a motivating encouraging way,” Tomori said.

“To get to the levels he’s got to… you can see that in the way he talks and the way he plays as well.

“I’ve only been here three weeks but you can see there’s a focus to him, determination and motivation – to see that up close and different to what we see on social media is really fascinating.”

Has he spoken to Chelsea’s new coach Thomas Tuchel yet?

“I haven’t, I think for him to come into a new job like this, he is pretty much focused on the team and that’s fine. He is a manager coming in into a big team and I think it will be difficult to arrive and message everyone, fair enough. They are doing well, they are picking up wins and I wish them all the best for the rest of the season.”

Chelsea receive boost as Atletico Madrid star suffers injury ahead of Champions League clash

Reports in Spain claim Yannick Carrasco may not feature for Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg clash against Chelsea as a resulf of injury after recovering from Covid-19.

The versatile 27-year-old has starred for Diego Simeone’s side this campaign – particularly in a new left-wing back position – but he may now need to sit out several games, according to Football Espana.

Carrasco has suffered a post-traumatic stress injury in a muscle in his left leg, which may mean the Belgian misses several matches.

According to a report in Marca, Carrasco will definitely miss this weekend’s La Liga clash against Levante and according to their club sources at Atleti, he is a major doubt for the European encounter against Thomas Tuchel’s side.

The Belgian international has played in 21 matches for Los Rojiblancos to date this campaign and his absence would be keenly felt.