Willy Caballero is the next subject of our series analysing the individual performances of Chelsea players this season…
With the season restart days away and our trip to Aston Villa looming, we’ve been taking a look at how 2019/20 was going for our squad before the unprecedented football pause in March in our Season So Far feature. This edition focuses on our shot-stopper from South America...
Willy Caballero: Nine appearances, one clean sheet
‘I’m very happy for him to be at the club. I’ve found him nothing but professional and very talented in training day-in, day-out and whenever he gets his opportunities to play.’
Speaking in January, Frank Lampard weighed up his options between the sticks by reflecting on the quality of the man who had hitherto been seen as his number two keeper. At that stage of the season, the Argentinian had only featured in the domestic cup competitions for the Blues but the boss’s words pre-empted a five-game run in the side for the 38-year-old.
Impressing as the understudy
Caballero started this term as our recognised number two, just as he had in his previous two seasons at Stamford Bridge behind Thibaut Courtois in 2017/18 and Kepa Arrizabalaga last season, in which time just five of his 21 appearances had come in the Premier League.
His first game under Lampard came in September’s thrashing of Grimsby Town in the Carabao Cup and he retained his starting spot in the following round, although was helpless to prevent Marcus Rashford netting twice with a penalty and a thunderous free-kick from distance as Manchester United won in west London.
When the FA Cup third round began in the New Year, Caballero kept a clean sheet as we beat Nottingham Forest and helped the team progress past Hull City in round four. As we suffered some disappointing results in the league, Lampard soon turned to the former Manchester City man’s experience and dependability.
Competing with Kepa
For the first time in his Chelsea career, Caballero started back-to-back Premier League games in February either side of the winter break. Despite a disappointing home defeat to Man United, he kept his place for our crucial win over Tottenham as well as subsequent outings against Bayern Munich and Bournemouth.
In a role reversal, it was Kepa who came in for the resumption of our FA Cup campaign when Liverpool visited the Bridge in early March and a superb triple-save in the first half that preserved the early advantage given to us by Willian was a particularly standout moment from that tie.
Having frequently discussed how performances in training and matches would be the deciding factor in team selection, Lampard kept faith with the Spaniard following that clean sheet and another soon followed in the Everton win five days later, our last competitive match action.
Among many issues the boss has had to ponder over recent months has been his goalkeeping situation and the good form of both Kepa and Caballero will give him plenty more to think about before he picks his starting 11 at Villa Park this weekend.
One more year
It was announced last month that the veteran keeper would be staying in SW6 for another season, taking him into a fourth year as a Blue.
On signing the extension, he said: 'It is a privilege to be part of this Chelsea squad and the Chelsea family, at one of the most historic clubs in the Premier League.'
Lampard was similarly effusive with his reaction to the news as he praised his former team-mate's quality and experience. 'I'm delighted he will be with us next season,' stated the head coach.
Willy Caballero Premier League stats 2019/20
Their season so far: Ross Barkley
Their season so far: Fikayo Tomori
Their season so far: Willian
Willy Caballero stats
Willy Caballero Premier League appearances 2019/20
Caballero has played four times in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, most recently in February’s draw at Bournemouth.
Willy Caballero Champions League appearances 2019/20
Caballero has featured once in our Champions League campaign against Bayern Munich.
Willy Caballero FA Cup appearances 2019/20
Caballero has played twice in the FA Cup this season, against Nottingham Forest and Hull City.
Willy Caballero League Cup appearances 2019/20
Caballero featured in both our Carabao Cup ties.
Willy Caballero clean sheets 2019/20
Caballero’s first clean sheet of the campaign came in our 2-0 FA Cup victory over Nottingham Forest in January.
Click here to read the other editions of our Season So Far player review series.