Friday 27 November, 2020

Kepa ruled out as Chelsea eye long-awaited Old Trafford win

Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Kepa Arrizabalaga has been ruled out of Chelsea's trip to Manchester United but Petr Cech will not be drafted in as the Blues eye a long-awaited Premier League win at Old Trafford.

Spain goalkeeper Kepa made yet another mistake in a 3-3 draw with Southampton last weekend after stepping in to replace Edouard Mendy, who missed out with a thigh injury.

Mendy returned for a goalless Champions League draw with Sevilla in midweek instead of Kepa, who will not travel north to face United on Saturday due to a shoulder injury.

Chelsea surprisingly added club legend Cech, who retired last year, to their Premier League squad but the 38-year-old keeper is not in the squad to take on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

The Blues have not won in seven top-flight away matches against United – their longest run without a league victory at Old Trafford since 1957 – and Frank Lampard will be eager to avoid setting an unwanted record.

Lampard lost his first two league games against United last season and would be the first Chelsea boss to suffer three defeats in a row if they slip up again this weekend.

The former England midfielder knows United are on a high after a 2-1 midweek Champions League win at Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), but he is relishing the challenge.

He said: "It certainly does feel like a big game. They are a quality team, they went to Paris and got a fantastic result. It's an opportunity to get some hard-earned points."

Lampard says it is premature to be discussing the race for the title, with Everton and Aston Villa the only unbeaten teams.

He added: "It's too early to assume anything. It's early. The games of teams around you will always be big. There are games where you have to grind out."

Only Arsenal (15) have dropped more points from winning positions in the Premier League than the 13 Chelsea have missed out on this year, Saints having rallied from two down to salvage a draw last weekend.

Lampard was encouraged to see his side keep Sevilla at bay, though, and hopes that is a sign of things to come.

"Clean sheets give confidence, but it's a simplistic view to say that everything goes wrong when you concede goals," he said.

"The finer details of how we want to be off the ball is something we want to work on."

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