HUDDERSFIELD, England — Antonio Rudiger praised Chelsea’s club-record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga for being a vocal presence on the pitch despite his quiet nature off it after the goalkeeper kept a clean sheet on his debut against Huddersfield Town.
Three days after Chelsea paid the €80 million (£71.5m) buyout clause in his Athletic Bilbao contract to replace the Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois, Kepa enjoyed a relatively quiet afternoon at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Kepa had just one save to make in the game but was quick off his line to snuff out danger, and also showcased his aerial ability to claim high balls pumped into the penalty area during the 3-0 win.
“He did well,” Rudiger said of his new teammate. “He tried to speak as much as he can and he did well with that. We as defenders need to help him and we did that. For us in general it was a very good day.
“In his work he’s very confident, but off the pitch he’s a quiet guy.
“We all know Thibaut’s quality, but he’s not a Chelsea player anymore. I wish him good luck in Real Madrid but now we have to concentrate on Kepa because he’s our goalkeeper.”
Buen comienzo en la @premierleague . Feliz por el debut.
— kepa Arrizabalaga (@kepa_46) August 11, 2018
Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri’s decision to implement a 4-3-3 system has presented many in his squad with new positional challenges. Rudiger is adjusting to partnering David Luiz in the heart of defence, and both men were more convincing against Huddersfield than they were against Manchester City in the Community Shield.
“We have a quite good understanding,” Rudiger added when asked about Luiz. “He’s a quality player and we helped each other. That’s the most important thing.
“It’s never easy to adapt to a new style of play, but I think we did well. We moved the ball well and also to have a good bench is always good.
“The players feel comfortable with [the new style], but it’s all about improving and working in training.”