Edouard Mendy must have feared the worst when Graham Potter’s first-team sheet as Chelsea boss dropped on September 6. Rotation during the Champions League competition group stage is not all that uncommon, but the Blues were clearly mixing things up against Dinamo Zagreb.
With a new coach at the helm, many slates were wiped clean at Stamford Bridge as those on the fringes of the fold under Thomas Tuchel were given another opportunity to impress.
On the other side of that coin, those enduring uncharacteristic dips in form no longer had a supportive manager to watch their back.
Kepa's Chelsea comeback 💥 pic.twitter.com/MAamqGsT8j— GOAL (@goal) October 20, 2022
Mendy found that out to his cost as a sudden change was made between the sticks. While remaining undisputed No.1 for Senegal, who sit at 90/1 in World Cup winner betting to add a global crown to the AFCON one they claimed earlier this year, competition is fierce in west London.
Favour in an international arena will be found in 2022 World Cup predictions news, with the reigning kings of Africa ready to rub shoulders with the best in the business on Qatari soil, but consistency struggles at Chelsea were always going to see uncomfortable questions asked of a star-studded side and their last line of defence.
Potter decided to shuffle the pack when he got his feet under the table, with Kepa Arrizabalaga immediately installed as his go-to option in the net.
Patience and persistence were finally rewarded for the Spaniard, who had grown rather accustomed to filling a spot on the bench.
While fortune was reversed for the better there, the boot was firmly on the other foot for Mendy. With only one position up for grabs in the goalkeeping department, to fall out of favour is never a good thing. Once somebody else gets their moment in the spotlight, returning to that stage can be tricky.
Potter, though, has never shied away from the fact that he will be encouraging healthy competition in every department at Chelsea. He has said of the battle to take on shot-stopping duties: “It is better to let football decide. Kepa has done really well. He has been supported fantastically by [Mendy] and [Marcus Bettinelli]. They provide good competition.”
It appeared at one stage as though Mendy would have to make peace with a support role in 2022-23, but a slice of luck has fallen in his favour. With Kepa returning to the treatment table, a starting berth opened up again.
A Mendy montage. 👌 pic.twitter.com/C8bW7ry3y4— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 17, 2022
Once such a place has been secured, it generally becomes the occupant’s property. It is theirs to lose, with a regular run there for the taking if individual standards can be maintained.
Fate has smiled on Mendy once more, and he also has international outings approaching on the grandest of stages.
The same cannot be said for domestic rival Kepa, who is taking on a watching brief with club and country, and it would appear as though Senegalese steel at the back will be favoured over a Spanish variety for the foreseeable future – barring another sudden swing in fortune on the form and fitness front.
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