Football News

“Things are valued differently in Spain” – Kepa reveals he is still learning about the importance of clean sheets for Chelsea

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 16:04, 20 September 2019

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has explained the cultural differences between Spanish and English football regarding clean sheets.

The 24-year-old Spaniard is enjoying a second campaign with the Blues, whom he joined from boyhood club Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71m – the highest fee ever paid for a ‘keeper.

Chelsea’s number one: Five key things to know…

  • Kepa joined Chelsea in 2018 for £71m, a world-record fee for a goalkeeper.
  • He kept 14 clean sheets across 36 Premier League appearances in the 2018/19 season.
  • Only Ederson (20) and Alisson (21) kept more with the latter winning the Golden Glove.
  • In Spain, the Ricardo Zamora Trophy is given to the ‘keeper who has the lowest goals-to-games ratio.
  • Kepa says he’s getting used to the “value” of keeping a shutout.

His first season saw him keep no fewer than 14 clean sheets across 36 Premier League appearances, with only Manchester City ‘keeper Ederson (20) and Alisson (21) at Liverpool producing more.

A modest return, though he shipped in 39 goals, substantially more than Ederson (23) and Alisson (22) who are widely considered among the very best in their position. Jan Oblak, who also belongs in that category, has won the last four editions of the Ricardo Zamora Trophy in Spain, which is given to the goalkeeper who has the lowest goals-to-games ratio.

Having grown up in this system, Kepa assumed the same applied in the UK, but quickly realised a mark of a good goalkeeper is measured by the amount of shutouts they keep, which he believes needs to be a collective effort.

“What I’ve found in this country is that great value is placed on keeping a clean sheet,” he told the club’s official magazine.

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“In Spain, things are valued differently than here – they calculate how many goals you concede over the course of the whole season and judge goalkeepers on that but in the UK, they count how many clean sheets you had during the season. It’s very valuable for us as a team and everyone seems to appreciate that.”

Chelsea have taken eight points from five Premier League games so far this season and host Liverpool on Sunday.