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Will Mendy start ahead of Kepa for Chelsea against Liverpool in FA Cup final? - Tuchel responds

10:24 GMT 14/05/2022
Kepa Edouard Mendy Chelsea vs Liverpool Carabao Cup final 2021-22
The 30-year-old Lion of Teranga has not enjoyed a good run of results in recent weeks and only kept a latest clean sheet against Leeds United

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has hinted at starting Edouard Mendy ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga in the FA Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The Blues will return to the same venue where they lost against the Reds in the final of the League Cup. Ahead of the final, while Mendy had played the quarter-final and semi-final as Chelsea advanced past Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace, Kepa started against Plymouth and Luton Town in the same competition.

During the League Cup final, it was Mendy, who started in the fixture but he was substituted when the game moved into extra time for Kepa, who went ahead to miss the decisive penalty kick and hand the title to Liverpool.

Asked about practising penalties and Kepa's selection, Tuchel told reporters as quoted by Fan Nation: “Kepa shoots [practices] for six weeks! I will not tell you. I have an opinion about it but I will not tell you. When it comes to it, you will see.

“Even if we decide like in the Carabao Cup before, if we have the chance we will do it. In approaching the match we always say let’s wait for the match and let’s see how the game goes, let’s see if we still have a change available.

“Let’s see how the match goes for Edou. It is never done before and it will not be done now. We have a plan for what we can do.”

Tuchel further explained how his players have been shooting a lot of penalties during training sessions ahead of the final.

“Practising, I’m a bit torn in between if you can practise it and how much to practise it. My players shoot a lot of penalties during a season, I have to say - on an almost daily basis,” Tuchel continued.

“Not too much. Not that a week before a final everybody is suddenly starting to shoot 10 penalties a day. It is more or less one or two per day through the season. In my opinion, it is good to have a certain routine for the players.

“To shoot tomorrow [Saturday] after 120 minutes of intense fight in a full stadium and pressure is on, it’s a different story. You cannot train. There are some techniques and routines you can dig into. This is what we do but over a long period of time.”

The 30-year-old Mendy, who joined Chelsea from Rennes in September 2020, and won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy with Senegal in January, kept a clean sheet in Chelsea’s last league game – a 3-0 result against relegation-threatened Leeds United.