Thomas Tuchel hands lifeline to Kepa as goalkeeper set for Chelsea start

Thomas Tuchel says he will bring Kepa Arrizabalga in from the cold and hand the goalkeeper a "new start" at Chelsea.

Kepa, 26, joined the Blues in a £72million move from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 but has failed to live up to his price tag at Stamford Bridge.

The Spanish goalkeeper's unconvincing form prompted former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard to sign a new first-choice goalkeeper last summer in the form of Edouard Mendy.

Kepa has been limited to six appearances this season but Tuchel insists he will be given a fresh chance to prove himself, confirming the shot-stopper will start the FA Cup tie at Barnsley on Thursday.

Quizzed on whether Kepa can revive his career in west London, Tuchel told reporters on Wednesday: "Absolutely, absolutely.

"He will play tomorrow; he will start tomorrow. From outside, we had a view on his situation and saw some difficulties on the sporting side.

"Maybe also the circumstances of his transfer is weighing a little bit on his shoulders. That was the impression from outside.

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"From inside, I see a nice guy. I see a nice personality, an open character, a hard-working guy, with obviously a lot of quality.

"So the good thing for him is that we start fresh, it's a new start for him. I don't have a history with him and I hope there will be no difficulties because I don't see them coming.

"He's a clear guy, an open guy. He does everything to impress in training. I'm happy and I feel all three goalkeepers in a good atmosphere, they are competitors to each other, it's a very special position in football of course, it's a very decisive position, it has its own rules.

Can Kepa cement himself as Chelsea's No.1 in the future? Have your say in the comments.

"If you make mistakes everybody sees them and talks about them. So you need a lot of mental strength and quality and I see this in all three goalkeepers. Kepa has a chance tomorrow and I hope he can show what he shows in training.

"We didn't make a change in the first game and Edou [Mendy] was strong in the moment. So tomorrow is an opportunity to show and hopefully, it's very important for me to say this, he doesn't want to overachieve. I want him to do a normal match tomorrow.

"He does not have to show me or anybody else tomorrow that he is ready to be Spain's No 1 in the summer. He just has to show his quality. Not more or less. So we have to manage expectations because I don't expect him to score and keep a clean sheet.

"I just want him to help us with his quality and he gives a solid performance to help the team. He has big goals to achieve and personal ambition. This is normal; it's why he's here."

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