League Cup

Sarri - Kepa was right but acted in the wrong way

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Chelsea's Italian head coach Maurizio Sarri (C) reacts after Chelsea's Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga remains on the pitch after an attempt to substitute him for Chelsea's Argentinian goalkeeper Willy Caballero (R) during the English League Cup fina

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24/02/2019 at 19:30 | Updated 24/02/2019 at 20:46

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has said that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was right to stay on the pitch during Sunday’s League Cup final defeat to Manchester City but he went about it in the wrong way.

Sarri and Kepa were at the heart of a truly extraordinary exchange with just one minute left of extra-time.

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It appeared as if Kepa had gone down with cramp and Sarri quickly readied reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

But Kepa repeatedly gestured that he was not going to come off, leading to a furious reaction from Sarri that saw the Chelsea manager walk down the tunnel before returning to the dugout.

Kepa v Sarri

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It led to intense speculation over the future of both manager and player, yet speaking to the media afterwards Sarri was quick to diffuse the situation.

"I misunderstood the problem and only realised the situation when the doctor arrived at the bench," he said.

"It was a big misunderstanding because I understood the keeper had cramp and was unable to go to the penalties. But it was not cramp and could go to the penalties."

When asked about why he walked off towards the tunnel, Sarri said: "I needed to return to be quiet. He [Kepa] understood that I asked for a change for his physical problem and he said I haven't a physical problem. And he was right.

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea refuses to be substituted during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England

Image credit: Getty Images

"I realised after when the doctor arrived. I have talked to him [Kepa] but only to clarify because now I have understand the situation."

Sarri came into the match under intense pressure following a disappointing run of results and the Kepa incident led to further questioning from the media.

When about his future, the Italian added: "You have to ask the club. Here I am very happy and in the last three matches we are improving and have improved a lot.

"Today showed everyone we could be a very solid team because we conceded nothing to the opponents and to Manchester City that is not easy. I am happy with my players.

"I think the club would be proud of that performance too, because the performance was very good against, in my opinion, the best club in Europe."


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FootballLeague CupChelseaManchester City
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