Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a problem, but it is not as big as Frank Lampard‘s problem. It is, however, the same problem. They need to drop their goalkeepers.
David de Gea’s confidence is gone. Up against Jamie Vardy and Leicester on Sunday, there is a very real chance another mistake would cost Manchester United a place in the Champions League – just as it cost them their tilt at the FA Cup final a week ago.
Equally, Kepa Arrizabalaga is no longer a shot-stopper at Chelsea. He concedes more goals from fewer strikes than any goalkeeper in the Premier League. And Chelsea, too, cannot afford a defeat in the final game of the season. Lampard has left him out before, and it is time to do it again.
Yet that is the complication. Solskjaer has, as De Gea’s understudy, Sergio Romero, who has proved very reliable when called upon in cup competitions over many seasons.
Arrizabalaga’s replacement is Willy Caballero, who won his place as first-choice earlier in the year, then just as quickly surrendered it because he looked unconvincing.
It would be a huge call for either manager to jettison an established No 1 in the last game – but the alternative is to deny an obvious flaw in the team and what if it costs?
Sir Alex Ferguson famously dropped Jim Leighton for Les Sealey between the 1990 FA Cup final and its replay, and was rewarded with a clean sheet against Palace and the trophy.
But England manager Steve McClaren procrastinated over Paul Robinson and by the time he brought Scott Carson in for the final European Championship group game against Croatia in 2007, the pressure to qualify was too great and it crushed him.
It is more than two years since Romero played in the Premier League for United, but he last conceded a goal in the competition on August 30, 2015, at Swansea.
This is not the same for Caballero, whose run in the Premier League and Champions League in February saw him ship 10 goals in five matches, with Chelsea only winning one. It is why Chelsea’s longer-term strategy will prove costlier, too.