Kepa Arrizabalaga seemed to be struggling with his cramp but he refused to be substituted by Sarri in the second half of extra time of the EFL Cup final.

Manchester City has beaten Chelsea 4-3 on penalties and won the EFL Cup for the 2nd time in a row. But what should apart for Chelsea in yesterday’s final was not their defeat, but the incident involving Chelsea goalkeeper
Kepa Arrizabalaga and their manager Maurizio Sarri.

Manchester City win the EFL Cup

The incident happened in the last minutes of the second half of extra time. Kepa had already been already been treated for his cramp and he fell to the ground for the second time. It appeared that he was struggling with his cramp. Sarri prepared a substitution. He was going to bring in Willy Caballero for Kepa Arrizabalaga. But what happened after that was an incident which the football fans aren’t familiar with. It seemed that Kepa was refusing to be substituted. That left Sarri furious and he charged towards the tunnel before returning to the touchlines.

After the final whistle, both Kepa and Sarri attempted to play down the incident. They insisted that it was a misunderstanding between the player and the coaching staff.

Maurizio Sarri told to the news conference: “I think that, if you saw the match, you can understand very well that, today, the players played exactly the match we prepared yesterday. So, I think I am in control, fully in control of the situation. Now, I’d like to speak about something else, about our way of football today, because our way of football today was a little bit different from other matches.”

When asked if he felt Kepa showed him a lack of respect, Sarri said: “No, Kepa only said: ‘No, no, I’m very well and able to continue.’ He understood I wanted to change for an injury. He was only telling me his word, saying he was really very well. So, I think that, in 120 minutes, a discussion can happen with the players. I think we have to concentrate on football. Of course, I will speak to him. As I said before, he was right for his motivation. But not for the conduct.”


Sarri also denied that the incident affected the Chelsea players ahead of the penalty shoot-out, saying: “No, I don’t think so, because the only nervous person was myself. I saw the players very quiet and calm. We had prepared [for a shoot-out], but it’s useless because it’s very easy to kick a penalty in the training ground. Then, after 20 hours, you have to kick a penalty here with 80,000 people, and millions watching on television. So, it’s really different. It’s not a question of technical ability. But more the mind, I think.”

Kepa Arrizabalaga spoke to the reporters after the match. He said that he felt the matter had got out of hand on social media and in television coverage and stressed that he was not trying to defy his head coach. Kepa told: “Well, first of all, I have to say it was misunderstood. In no moment was it my intention to disobey, or anything like that with the boss. It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench, and they explained everything well. This was nothing to do with the problems I had this week, with [my hamstring], it wasn’t that. And, well, it was misunderstood. Because he thought I couldn’t continue, and – fundamentally – I was trying to say that, physically, I was fine.”


Kepa further added: “I know if you see it from outside, I don’t know how it went out, it is not the best image. I have spoken with the boss. I think it was misunderstood. I understand that on television, on social media, they’re talking about this but I am here to explain it, to say that it wasn’t my intention to go against the manager. We have spoken now, and I was only trying to say I’m fine. He thought I wasn’t fine. It was in tense moments, with a lot happening.
I thought the bench felt I couldn’t continue, because it was the second time I’d gone to ground. It was extra time. We’d run a lot, so [going to ground] was also a way of stopping the match. We’d had a few moments suffering, defending, so it was to stop the match and for the team to draw breath and not a moment where I was saying I couldn’t continue.
It wasn’t that I was refusing to be substituted, it was a way of trying to tell the bench that I was fine.”

Kepa then released a statement via Twitter to underline his version of events, saying: “I regret how the end of the match has been portrayed. At no time has it been my intention to disobey the coach or any of his decisions. I think everything has been misunderstood in the heat of the final part of a match for a title. The coach thought I was not in a position to play on and my intention was to express that I was in good condition to continue helping the team, while the docs that had treated me arrived at the bench to give the message. I feel the image that has been portrayed was not my intention. I have full respect for the coach and his authority.”

Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri is now under pressure after heavy Premier League defeats to City and Bournemouth and a FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United and now an EFL Cup final loss to Manchester City. Sarri said: “I don’t know; you’ll have to use your phone and ask the club. I can say my opinion, but I don’t know. But today I’m really very happy because my feeling is that we are improving. We are improving because we could become a very solid team, I think. We conceded nothing to Manchester City, and that’s not really very easy. They’re very dangerous in the attacking phase and usually score a lot. So, I’m happy with the performance, and I saw the match on the pitch that I prepared yesterday. So, for a coach, it’s a very important thing.”

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