Our third-choice keeper Rob Green has been working alongside Kepa Arrizabalaga all season so he is as well placed as anyone to analyse the Spaniard’s improvement since arriving at Stamford Bridge.
Green certainly does not lack footballing experience. He made his professional debut 20 years ago now, keeping a clean sheet for Norwich in the East Anglian derby against Ipswich, and has represented England 12 times since including at the 2010 World Cup.
Signed as a back-up to Kepa and Willy Caballero last summer, Green has played his part in imparting his vast wealth of goalkeeping knowledge to his team-mates, and has witnessed our no.1’s development at close quarters.
‘Kepa for his first season in the Premier League has had a fantastic season, and one that he will get stronger off the back of,’ Green assessed of the man 15 years his junior, before detailing what has been different for Kepa this year.
‘The demands. He’s a young guy. The amount of football he has played, all of a sudden he has gone into a season where he has played probably 50 games, more than 50 games. And it’s not just the games themselves, he’s going away for internationals, he’s travelling all round Europe to play these games.
‘And the intensity of the games, and the spotlight of the games is far greater. He has managed that and maintained his performance throughout. His talent was there - it doesn’t take an expert to see that. But I think what don’t you realise when you’re out of it is the demands it has on someone who is still a young lad.’
It is not only Kepa who has had to cope with the trials and tribulations of a long campaign, which concludes in Baku with the Europa League final, our 63rd competitive game of 2018/19. Our venture to that tournament’s conclusion has been a long one and Green explained the impact it has had this term.
‘The Europa League is an interesting tournament. What I have learned is you realise how much it takes out of the team and how demanding the schedule is. The boys are coming back from a long way away, you’re talking Greece or Ukraine, landing on a Friday and you look at the lads and the staff and they’re dead on their feet, and you’re thinking we’ve got another game in 48 hours.
‘The standards that have been maintained throughout despite the demands is something that is truly a credit to the lads and everybody involved with the club.’