Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri on Sunday said that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to be substituted was a “misunderstanding,” even if the Spaniard should have showed more respect toward his boss as Manchester City retained the EFL Cup on penalties.
The Italian tried to replace the world’s most expensive goalkeeper with Willy Caballero toward the end of a cagey 120 minutes that ended 0-0.
Kepa had received treatment for an injury in the final stages and Sarri said he believed he was suffering from cramp until later informed otherwise by the club doctor.
“It was a big misunderstanding because I understood he had cramp so I didn’t want the goalkeeper to go to penalties in that physical condition,” Sarri said. “I realized the situation after only three or four minutes when the doctor came to the bench.”
City goalkeeper Ederson denied Jorginho and David Luiz hit the post in the shoot-out, before Raheem Sterling smashed the winner.
“The goalkeeper wanted only to let me know that he was in condition to go to the penalties,” Sarri added. “He was right for the motivation, but not for the conduct.”
However, Kepa’s show of defiance puts Sarri’s future under the spotlight once more on what had until then been a vindication of his tactics just two weeks on from Chelsea’s worst defeat since 1991 in a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of City in the English Premier League.
“I don’t know, you have to ask the club,” Sarri said about his future. “Today I am really very happy because my feeling is that we are improving because we could become a very solid team. Today we conceded nothing to Man City, which is not very easy.”
With his back to the wall, it was perhaps understandable that Sarri adopted a more cautious approach.
Gonzalo Higuain was dropped to the bench to leave Eden Hazard to plow a lone furrow up front.
“It was quite a similar game to the one in Stamford Bridge where we lost,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “What happened two weeks ago is not normal, we knew it.”
However, Guardiola played down suggestions City could now go on to lift a historic quadruple of trophies with the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup to follow.
“Winning this game is good for the enthusiasm for the next games, but we are going to suffer for the next competitions, especially in the Champions League and Premier League,” a downbeat Guardiola said after losing Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho to muscle injuries that could rule them out for a few weeks.
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