Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel impressed by the form of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

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Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has hailed the character and professionalism of back-up goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Spaniard Kepa is currently playing second fiddle to Edouard Mendy at Stamford Bridge, but his form when called upon has not gone unnoticed by Tuchel.

The 27-year-old, making only his sixth appearance of the season, produced two stunning saves to keep Brentford at bay as a youthful Chelsea side won 2-0 on Wednesday night to reach the Carabao Cup semi-finals.

Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa Arrizabalaga has shown impressive form when called upon by Chelsea (Shaun Botterill/PA)

Mendy is set to return when the Blues head to Aston Villa in the Premier League on Boxing Day, but Tuchel is delighted with his options in the goalkeeping department.

“I am very happy in general. Happy is maybe not the right word, but I am super impressed with Kepa,” he said.

“It is not a surprise anymore because he is in the state of mind as a person, a character and a sportsman where he just delivers for us, because he does what he does best.

“This is what he shows every day in training and this is why he gets the reward. I am absolutely sure that this is the reason why he has these kinds of performances.

Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku is set to return for Chelsea at Aston Villa (Nick Potts/PA)

“I am super happy, we need him in this kind of shape. The goalkeepers are a strong group and Kepa is a big part of it.”

Tuchel can welcome back Romelu Lukaku and Callum Hudson-Odoi for the trip to Villa Park.

The attacking duo were two of the eight Blues players hit by Covid-19 but have now recorded negative tests and are back in training.

Defender Andreas Christensen is also in contention after a back injury.

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