Chelsea defender Rudiger hails calm Kepa after opening win
Chelsea’s new record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga impressed team-mate Antonio Rudiger in their opening-day Premier League win at Huddersfield.
Kepa, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper after his £72.1million move from Athletic Bilbao on Thursday, had little to do on his debut as Chelsea cruised to a 3-0 victory in Maurizio Sarri’s first game in charge.
But German defender Rudiger was pleased the Spaniard’s first appearance passed without incident following Thibault Courtois’ controversial departure.
“I think he (Kepa) did well,” Rudiger said. “He tried to speak as much as he can. He did well with that and as defenders we needed to help him – and we did that.
“In general, it was a very good day. We all know Thibault’s quality, but Thibault’s not a Chelsea player anymore.
“I wish him good luck at Real Madrid, but now we have to concentrate on Kepa because he’s our goalkeeper. In his work he’s very confident.”
Chelsea were found wanting in last week’s Community Shield defeat to Manchester City, but proved too good for Huddersfield despite leaving World Cup stars Eden Hazard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Olivier Giroud on the bench.
“We’re happy because to be honest our pre-season games were not that good,” Rudiger said.
“But today we can be more happy because we won the game. Three goals and a clean sheet. That’s good for us.
“It’s not always easy to adapt because it’s a new style of play, but I think we did well. We moved the ball well and to have a good bench is always good.”
Huddersfield had given as good as they got before going behind to N’Golo Kante’s scuffed 34th-minute volley.
The Terriers were then dealt a major blow just before half-time when Chelsea were awarded a penalty for Christopher Schindler’s sliding tackle on Marcos Alonso.
Summer signing Jorginho converted in trademark style from the spot, feinting during his run up to send Huddersfield debutant Ben Hamer the wrong way and stroking the ball into the opposite corner.
Huddersfield striker Steve Mounie’s header had hit the inside of a post as David Wagner’s side responded well to Kante’s opener before Pedro drove home the third goal after being set up by second-half substitute Hazard.
“We had a very good first half, but we know that Chelsea, when you face a team like this, they are very clinical,” Mounie said.
“You have to use your chances and (luck) wasn’t on our side unfortunately, so we keep going and keep working, it’s only the first game.”
Mounie took exception to Jorginho’s cheeky penalty, adding: “It was weird.
“He jumped before the penalty and Ben (Hamer) had already dived so I don’t know why the ref didn’t make him retake the penalty.
“It was a little bit weird. The ref needs to explain that to us because I don’t understand why (it was not retaken).”