Kepa Arrizabalaga is confident that his young Chelsea teammates Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori can thrive in the Champions League, as quoted by the Press Association.
The quartet of Chelsea men are preparing to make their debuts in the premier UEFA competition against Valencia CF on Tuesday night, having secured their return to the Champions League with a third-place finish in the Premier League while winning the Europa League last season.
Kepa has been a key figure at Stamford Bridge since his world record arrival from Athletic Bilbao, with the £71million (BBC) shot-stopper featuring in all bar two of the Premier League games available to him (TransferMarkt).
The Spain international was also instrumental to the Blues’ efforts in the Europa League last season, as he played the full game in each of his 13 outings from a possible 15, keeping seven clean sheets – the most of any goalkeeper in the competition.
Ondarroa-born Kepa had never featured in Europe before his move to West London in 2018, and is preparing to take on the Champions League under new head coach Frank Lampard, in a young side packed with emerging talents.
Abraham, Tomori and Mount have almost been unmovable from Lampard’s plans in the Premier League this term (WhoScored), but, like Kepa, have also not tasted football on the highest stage in Europe. The Spanish goalkeeper is confident they can rise to the task of facing Europe’s elite, though.
“Regardless of the fact we’re a young team and it’s only September and there is a long way to go, we are going to play with energy and try and attack the opposition,” the 24-year-old said ahead of Valencia’s trip to Chelsea.
“Many of the players in the team will be playing their first Champions League game, but we’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We spent the whole of last year trying to qualify for the Champions League, so we feel very enthusiastic.
“We can’t wait to see the atmosphere at the Bridge and play in front of our fans in the most important European club competition.”
Kepa’s confidence will be put to the test when Albert Celades’ Valencia arrive at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night looking for only their second win of the season across all competitions, but the Blues goalkeeper’s belief in his young teammates is not without reason.
All of Chelsea’s eleven Premier League goals this term have come from Abraham (7), Mount (3) and Tomori (1), who also rank highly for shots fashioned per ninety minutes, per WhoScored data, showing the self-belief they have.
Playing Valencia close to a week after they sacked manager Marcelino Garcia Toral (The Guardian) and while they are in a state of disarray may also help Chelsea’s young chargers to bed into UEFA’s premier competition, and build the confidence that is continually rising in West London.
Chelsea fans, are you confident that Lampard’s young chargers can maintain their buoyant start to the campaign? Let us know in the comments below…
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