Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was the fall guy for Chelsea in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final as he failed to live up to his reputation as a penalty specialist.
Having replaced Edouard Mendy right at the end of a goalless 120 minutes specifically for the shoot-out, Kepa was beaten by all 11 Liverpool penalties before missing the decisive kick himself.
Here, the PA news agency compares the duo’s spot-kick records to analyse manager Thomas Tuchel’s decision.
Kepa had been on the winning side in six out of eight shoot-outs before Sunday, with each of those wins seeing two opposing takers fail to score including at least one save.
The strongest precedent for Sunday’s switch came from August’s UEFA Super Cup, when he was again introduced late in extra time and justified Tuchel’s faith by saving from Villarreal’s Aissa Mandi and Raul Albiol as Chelsea won 6-5.
The Spain international also saved from Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba and Southampton’s Theo Walcott earlier in this season’s League Cup run, while he thwarted Tottenham and Eintracht Frankfurt in 2019 and France Under-19s early in his career.
His two previous shoot-out losses, though, were bad omens for Sunday. Liverpool themselves scored all five against him in 2019’s UEFA Super Cup but he suffered most memorably in a previous League Cup final, Chelsea beaten 4-3 on penalties by Manchester City in 2019 after Kepa refused to be substituted late on while seemingly injured.
Overall he had faced 40 shoot-out penalties before Sunday, saving 10 and seeing three other opposing takers miss the target while 27 kicks, 67.5 per cent, had been scored.
Mendy, who has recent experience of winning the Africa Cup of Nations on penalties with Senegal, had faced 26 penalties in five shoot-outs – 18 of those were scored, 69.2 per cent, with Mendy’s teams winning two and losing three.
Those figures, then, were slightly in Kepa’s favour before Sunday’s nightmare – but when penalties in regulation play are factored in, the picture becomes significantly clearer.
Mendy has faced 32 in-game penalties with 30 of those finding the back of his net.
He saved Sergio Aguero’s feeble Panenka attempt in last season’s win over Manchester City, and from Toulouse’s Jonas Martin in 2019 while playing for Rennes. Otherwise, though, opposing takers have had their way against him – including seven since he joined Chelsea, with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah among that number.
Kepa’s record of 17 goals against from 24 penalties is much more respectable, and at 71 per cent slightly better than the global average – a study last year by statistics company InStat found around 75.5 per cent of penalties are scored in men’s football.
That gave an overall success rate of 68.8 per cent for penalties taken against Kepa before Sunday, combining regulation and shoot-outs, and though Liverpool’s perfect set lifted that to 73.3 per cent it still compares favourably to Mendy conceding from 82.8 per cent of the spot-kicks he has faced in all situations.
As for Kepa’s miss, neither of Chelsea’s goalkeepers had ever taken a competitive penalty to provide any guidance and there would have seemed little likelihood of the Spaniard being required to do so this time.