Frank Lampard has laid down a challenge to Kepa Arrizabalaga as Chelsea head into a crucial week in their season.
Lampard’s team host Manchester United on Monday and Tottenham the following Saturday in matches that could prove decisive in the race for the Premier League’s top four.
Chelsea’s manager wants his players to embrace this challenge and that includes the £71m Arrizabalaga, who looks set to return to the side after being dropped for the last match against Leicester.
“It was just a selection on that day, but I want everyone’s reaction to be spot on and he came out of the team,” Lampard said. “I know how that feels and what it would have meant to him. Every player [gets dropped], except maybe Messi or Ronaldo.
“I don’t expect smiley faces when people get dropped, I just expect reactions. With the competition in squads now … you have to always be aware that if your standards drop or if the manager chooses for whatever reason, [to leave you out] you need to handle it in the right way.”
Lampard said Kepa had responded in the right way to being dropped, leading to speculation the Spaniard is likely to replace Willy Caballero against United.
“His reaction has been good as I would expect,” Lampard said. “Working hard, head down. I haven’t had lots of conversations with him this week, but it’s a decision for me to make and I have made my decision.”
Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will not be available against United as they continue their recovery from injury, and Tammy Abraham will be touch and go after missing training this week.
One piece of good news, however, came in the signing of Hakim Ziyech, with the Moroccan set to join from Ajax this summer. Lampard described in glowing terms what fans can expect from the winger.
“The quality he has got will be there for fans to see,” Lampard said. “We have spoken a lot this season of having a lot of the ball but not the final bit. Hopefully he can be a player to … provide that, with his quality, with his passing, final ball and shooting.”