The new arrival cut a self-assured figure in The Blues’ first clash of the new season, prompting acclaim from his team-mate
Antonio Rudiger has praised Kepa Arrizabalaga’s efforts as Chelsea’s new goalkeeper kept a clean sheet on his Premier League debut versus Huddersfield.
The Blues suffered only a few scares at the John Smith’s Stadium on the opening day, but largely limited the hosts as Maurizio Sarri’s side showed flashes of the new manager’s style in a 3-0 victory.
Commendation was largely reserved for the midfield contingent as pundits dissected the match, as Jorginho impressed alongside N’Golo Kante, both midfielders finding the net before Pedro sealed the deal late on.
But Rudiger singled out the new man between the sticks for special praise, citing the £71 million ($92m) signing’s communication as key to ensuring Chelsea returned to London without conceding.
“He did well,” the German centre-back said of the shot-stopper, “He tried to speak as much as he could. It was good, we have a good understanding and he is a quality player.
“He did well with [communication]. When we needed to help him, we helped him. Today in general for us was a very good day. We all know Thibaut’s [Courtois] quality, but Thibaut is no longer a Chelsea player.
“I wish him good luck at Real Madrid but now we have to concentrate on Kepa because he is our goalkeeper. In his work he is very confident and off the pitch he is a quiet guy.”
For Rudiger’s part, the 25-year-old appears to be Sarri’s preferred centre-back in a 4-3-3 system, the new boss pushing to play the same fast, attacking football, which begins from defence, that saw his Napoli side earn 91 points last season.
Rudiger performed well alongside David Luiz in the match-up against Huddersfield, but The Blues’ next clash against Arsenal represents an altogether different type of test as Sarri attempts to drill his new squad in his methods.
And Rudiger, eager not to see himself and his team-mates get ahead of themselves, is conscious that Chelsea may still have some way to go before they are fully confident with the new boss’ philosophy.
“We are happy because our pre-season games were not that good. Today we can be happy that we won the game – three goals and a clean sheet for us.
“It’s not always easy to adapt because it’s a new style of play, but I think that we moved the ball well.
“I think you say the players become more comfortable today. It’s all about working on it in training and improving.”
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