League Cup

The Warm-Up: The Kepa Arrizabalaga ‘misunderstanding’ explained

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Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga argues with manager Maurizio Sarri as he tries to sub him off during the Carabao Cup Final between Chelsea and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 24, 2019 in London, England.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByMarcus Foley
25/02/2019 at 02:07 | Updated 25/02/2019 at 08:57

Plus, Jurgen Klopp’s excuse factory, the world’s best player and the No Draw Cup.


Manchester City won the League Cup on Sunday. A team winning the first domestic trophy of the season is usually and, quite rightly, a newsworthy endeavour; not today, nope. Kepa Arrizabalaga made sure of that after an extraordinary altercation with his manager Maurizio Sarri.


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The basics of the situation are as follows: Sarri, Arrizabalaga’s manager, made the decision, after his goalkeeper - who had been doubtful for the League Cup final with a hamstring injury, went down injured - to substitute him with a penalty shootout looming. Kepa Arrizabalaga decided he didn’t fancy coming off, so he didn’t. The 24-year-old, who has three caps for Spain, gesticulated wildly, aggressively and disrespectfully in the direction of Sarri as he decided he was not coming off.

The optics of this debacle reflect awfully on all parties but most of all Kepa, who referred to the situation as a misunderstanding post-match chat with the club’s official website when he said:

It was misunderstood.

Definitely a misunderstanding, yes, but not how Kepa perceived it. Kepa appears to have completely misunderstood the mechanisms of his relationship with his boss. If his boss, who at a basic level is his superior, instructs him to do something reasonable, the societal norm is to comply whether the employee is in agreement or not with said decision. Failure to do so undermines the whole structure.

Kepa's rewriting of what actually went on did not stop there.

In no moment was it my intention to disobey, or anything like that with the boss.

The Warm-Up would like to see Kepa intentionally disobey someone then because that would be quite the spectacle. Kepa disobeyed his manager and also disobeyed Gianfranco Zola to boot. He is young, and everyone makes mistakes, but it seems pretty clear he was in the wrong. Yet there was no apology forthcoming in his chat with the club website. And that is fairly worrying.

Kepa needs to be sat on the bench for a few games from here – reset the equilibrium between manager and player. Will it happen? Unlikely, particularly after Sarri already came out to also dismiss the situation as a misunderstanding. And the fact that Kepa will likely receive no sanction for his behaviour just reinforces a completely skewed power dynamic that exists between the players at Chelsea and their managers.

Kepa is the world’s most expensive goalkeeper but the jury is still well and truly on his actual merits as a top-level stopper. He is a long, long way from being the best keeper in the league and it is questionable as to whether he is in the top five. He saved one penalty in the shootout but let a pretty tame Sergio Aguero effort squirm under his body as Chelsea lost 4-3 in the shootout.

So, with all the above in mind – here is the Kepa misunderstanding explained: Kepa disobeyed his manager and it reflects horribly on the culture at Chelsea.

Anyway, things could be worse, mind, Chelsea could be banned from signing players for the next two transfer windows, therefore rendering them unable to replace a petulant player who overstates their own sense of self-worth. Oh.

Jurgen Klopp absolutely loves a dodgy excuse

Don’t believe The Warm-Up? Peruse the following thread at your leisure.

Anyway, after his Liverpool side were held to a scoreless draw by an injury-ravaged Manchester United, the Anfield boss thought that the Red Devils being forced into three first-half changes was a disadvantage to Liverpool.

"It was a strange game," Klopp began after the match. "We started really well. All the injuries in the game obviously cost us rhythm. It happened to us with Bobby [Firmino] and that was a catastrophe.”

Not to put too fine a point on this here but United lost three players to injury and Liverpool one.

The boys didn't feel okay. I could see it in their faces. I was thinking, 'what is going on here today?'. United played with a completely new midfield and three up front. We lost our rhythm and couldn't get it back.

So, to be clear, because Manchester United lost key personnel early doors, it OBVIOUSLY cost Liverpool their rhythm. Now call The Warm-Up old fashioned but surely if a team lost three players to injury in the first half it would be to their disadvantage. Apparently not.

Anyway, Liverpool were flat. They did lack rhythm but, all things being equal, it probably wasn’t because there were four substitutions in the first half. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps, on a subconscious level, not losing was more important than winning. Whether Sunday’s result represents a point gained or two dropped will be a little clearer after Manchester City make the trip to Old Trafford in late April. They are top and took a point from one of their fiercest rivals away from home.

Next up for Liverpool? Watford on Wednesday. Free tip for one Javi Gracia – should Liverpool start well, just make three subs. Job done.

Lionel Messi remains the greatest player to lace a pair of boots

While the rest of the world sinks deeper into chaos, Lionel Messi continues to go about his business being the greatest player ever.

His latest endeavours saw him score an absolutely filthy hat-trick against Sevilla on Saturday.

It was his 50th treble for the club and country. 50. Fifty. That result leaves Barcelona seven points clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table, and Messi on course for a tenth Liga title. 10th. TENTH. League titles are the best barometer of a team’s quality and Barca and Messi have won nine.

Having said that, Messi needs to probably win another Champions League title to completely put to bed the debate over his greatness. Four is a decent haul but there is another lad who has five.

IN OTHER NEWS - The No Draw Cup is still on for Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have absolutely no interest in the following:

  • signing football players
  • drawing games in the league

27 games played, seven lost, 20 won and not one draw thus far this season. Incredible scenes. The White Hart Wembley club should get some sort of cup for their endeavour should they go the whole season without drawing a game. Unlikely, but at least they’ll be a DVD commemorating the achievement.


HERO - George Barker

George Barker of Gosport Borough FC did the following in his side’s 4-0 win over Hendon in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier over the weekend.

The most impressive thing here, in The Warm-Up’s humble (yet correct) opinion, is the way he rearranges his feet. Elite stuff.

ZERO – Mateusz Klich

It is all kicking off between Leeds and Bolton players so what does Leeds star Mateusz Klich do? Indulges in some rage-inducing skulduggery. Scandalous.


Manuel Pellegrini has had a storied career, coaching at some of the world’s best clubs. Jack Pitt-Brooke of the Independent sat down with him for a chat.

It is fair to say he remains a fan of the enigmatic Juan Roman Riquelme.

Riquelme, with his quality, can play 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago or now, where he wants. Riquelme was not a top, top player, because he has other problems. Many years ago, in that moment he had a lack of maturity, he wanted to be number one, did stupid things. But as a player, he can do what he wants. He can play in every league where he wants.


More Kepa fallout, and probably, knowing Chelsea, the sacking of Sarri.

Nick Miller is apparently on duty tomorrow but emboldened by Kepa Arrizabalaga, he might just wag his finger at his laptop and sack it off.

Serie A

Andrea Pirlo appointed as new Juventus manager

Champions League

Lyon beat out Juventus despite Cristiano Ronaldo brace in Champions League shock

07/08/2020 AT 19:58
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