Kepa Arrizabalaga incident a misunderstanding, says Maurizio Sarri
Chelsea boss plays down substitution farce during Carabao Cup final
By Gerard Brand at Wembley
Last Updated: 25/02/19 6:07am
Maurizio Sarri played down goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s apparent defiance of the Chelsea manager as a "misunderstanding" after the Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City.
As the game approached a penalty shootout following a 0-0 draw, Chelsea attempted to bring on substitute goalkeeper Willy Caballero for Arrizabalaga, who appeared injured moments before.
Arrizabalaga refused to come off, indicating he was fine to play on, prompting a stand-off which resulted in Sarri reacting angrily and walking down the tunnel before returning.
But Sarri was calm after the game which Chelsea lost 4-3 on penalties, saying he wanted Caballero on the pitch because Arrizabalaga looked to have cramp - not for the Argentine's penalty-saving ability - insisting it was all a misunderstanding. He added that after the medical staff informed him it was not cramp, the matter was cleared up.
He told Sky Sports: "It was a big misunderstanding. I understood the goalkeeper had cramp, and was unable to go to the pens, but the problem was not cramp, so he was able to go to the penalties.
"As I say to the goalkeeper, he understood that I asked for a change for his physical problem, he said, 'I haven't a physical problem' and so he was right I think.
"I realised after when the doc arrived to the bench, the goalkeeper with a little problem, I wanted Caballero ready."
Asked if he would be talking to Arrizabalaga about his reaction, Sarri added: "No, I have to talk with him but only to clarify because now I have understood very well the situation." Although in the post-match press conference he did admit the Spanish goalkeeper's conduct was incorrect.
"It was only a big misunderstanding, Kepa was right, but in the wrong way I think, in the wrong way in the way he behaved and conducted himself, but mentally he was right, he was able to go to penalties.
"He needs to understand that for misunderstanding we can get in trouble, especially with you [media]! I only have to explain exactly the situation with Kepa without any other problems.
"I wanted Caballero on the pitch because I was afraid he had cramp. So with the cramp I think you are unable to go to pens, but the doctor explained to me it wasn't cramp, so he was able."
Just a fortnight after City's 6-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League, Sarri's side improved drastically, something the Italian believes proves the players are with him and that there is no dissent in the squad.
Asked if he was sure the players believe in him, Sarri told Sky Sports: "After this match I have to say that I am sure, because they played exactly what I asked, today I am proud of my players.
"You have to ask the club. Here I am really very happy, I think we are improving, we have improved a lot [last three matches]. Today we showed to everyone we could become a very solid team, because we conceded nothing to our opponents, and against Man City that is not easy.
"I am really very happy and proud of my players. The performance was really very good against, in my opinion, the best team in Europe."
He then said in his post-match press conference: "I think that if you saw the match, you can understand very well that today the players played exactly the match that we prepared yesterday.
"So I think I am fully comfortable of the situation. So now I'd like to speak about something else, about our way of football today, because it was a little bit different from other matches."