Sport Soccer

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Kepa Arrizabalaga gives his explanation after extraordinary substitution row with Maurizio Sarri

A dejected Kepa Arrizabalaga applauds the Chelsea supporters after the match at Wembley. Photo: Reuters
A dejected Kepa Arrizabalaga applauds the Chelsea supporters after the match at Wembley. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Kepa Arrizabalaga has offered up his version of events after he he refused to come off the field despite being substituted in the final minutes of the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City.

In extraordinary scenes at Wembley, Arrizabalaga declined to make way for back-up keeper Willy Caballero in the shoot-out that would decide the first major trophy of the English season.

International Football Association Board (IFAB) rules state that a player is within his rights to decline the substitution, yet the Chelsea stopper appeared to be carrying an injury after he went down for treatment during extra time.

Sarri's belief that the player was suffering from cramp and may not be ready to perform at his best in the shoot-out inspired his decision to make the change, but the Spaniard stayed on the field in a move that appeared to be defying the wishes of his manager.

While Arrizabalaga saved Leroy Sane's spot-kick in the shoot-out, but City still won the competition thanks to Raheem Sterling's decisive kick sealing a 4-3 win, with Chelsea's record signing admitting the images of his row with Sarri did not look good as they were broadcast around the world.

"I know if you see it from outside, I don't know how it went out, it is not the best image," Kepa told Chelsea's official website.

"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.

"It was a big misunderstanding, I understood that he had cramp so I didn't want the goalkeeper to go to the penalties in that physical condition," said Sarri.

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

"Then I realised the situation when only the doctor arrived to the bench after four minutes and in the meantime I wanted Caballero on the pitch.

"The goalkeeper only wanted to let me know that he was in condition to go to the penalties. It was a big misunderstanding."


Despite Sarri's attempts to claim it was a misunderstanding, the perception for those looking had to be that Arrizabalaga had shown disrespect to his manager and the Chelsea boss admitted the player handled the situation poorly.

"Kepa was right, but wrong in the way he conducted himself," Sarri added. "Mentally he was right, he was able to go to the penalties. He was right for the motivation but not for the conduct.

"I was really angry. I want to talk with him because he needs to understand that we can get in trouble, especially with you (the media).

"I have to explain the situation to Kepa but without any other problem."

After setting up for the Wembley final in a manner that would allow no repeat of their 6-0 Premier League humiliation of just a couple of weeks ago, Chelsea put up a good show and improved as the game went on.

They restricted City to very few clear-cut chances and could have snatched a winner towards the end of normal time.

Despite Arrizabalaga's actions, Sarri insists the performance shows Chelsea's players are behind their manager.

"After this match I have to say that I'm sure," he said. "Because they played exactly what I asked. Today I am proud of my players.

"You have to ask the club (about the future), here I am really very happy. I think in the last three matches we are improving, we have improved a lot.

"Today we showed to everyone that we could become a very solid team, because we conceded nothing to the opponents, against Man City that is not easy.

"So I'm really very happy with my players and today I'm proud of my players."

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