LONDON • Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has confirmed new signing Edouard Mendy is the club’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga – for the moment.
The Senegal No. 1, who missed last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Southampton in the Premier League, made an earlier than expected return from injury and was restored to the starting line-up for their Group E Champions League opener against Sevilla.
He showed why he deserved to keep his place in the team as both sides battled to a goal-less draw at Stamford Bridge.
While the 28-year-old had only one major save to make in a cagey encounter that will be remembered for defensive doggedness than attacking play, he was an assured figure between the sticks, unlike the error-prone Kepa.
Asked if Mendy was now his preferred pick, Lampard said: “The way he has played in the three games since being here, he’s played very well… So at the minute, yes.
“I said when he came in it was good for competition. We knew his qualities and he’s showing them already. The way he is playing I’m very happy.
“Today the bonus is the clean sheet. It’s a long season and we are in the early stages of it.”
The inclusion of Petr Cech as fourth goalkeeper in Chelsea’s Premier League squad has raised some eyebrows, given the Czech retired last year, but Lampard said he would act as cover.
The manager confirmed that the 38-year-old, who played for Chelsea from 2004-2015 and a further four seasons for Arsenal, would be called into action only in the event of an emergency.
“We had that space in the squad and we know this year, it looks like no other because of Covid and isolation… We felt it was a no-brainer to have Pete in the squad,” Lampard said of the Blues’ technical and performance adviser.
“He’s still relatively young. He finished playing when he possibly could have carried on.”
Chelsea’s goal-less draw with Sevilla was their first since Frank Lampard became manager.
Elsewhere in the group, debutants Rennes and Krasnodar settled for a 1-1 draw in France. The French Ligue 1 team travel to Sevilla, while Russia’s Krasnodar host Chelsea next week.