Maurizio Sarri can’t have had much time since last weekend’s Carabao Cup final to rue missing out on winning his first trophy as a manager.
Although Chelsea lost to Manchester City and kept their quadruple dream alive, all the talk about the clash at Wembley has focussed on ‘that’ incident involving Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The goalkeeper defied Sarri when ordered to make way for Willy Caballero deep into extra time, initially thought to be a reaction to the Spaniard suffering cramp.
Kepa refused to comply and, to no real surprise, was accused of being disrespectful towards his manager and colleague.
Rather surprisingly, though, Sarri - who was visibly incensed at the time - described the conflict as a “misunderstanding” during ensuing interactions with the media.
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Given the concerns over Kepa’s fitness before kick-off, it’s reasonable to assume Sarri wanted his substitute goalkeeper on the pitch for the penalty shootout - especially after the former twice went down hurt.
However, it seems there’s more to the situation than has been revealed to date.
The Mirror claims Sarri had been advised by his coaching staff to put Caballero between the sticks after extra time due to his expertise in saving spot-kicks.
But Kepa was completely oblivious to the predetermined plan, which is why the £70 million summer signing didn’t play along.
While these details are unlikely to change the minds of those who believe the 24-year-old was wrong to disobey his manager, they do suggest neither party is immune from responsibility for the fracas.
Chelsea recovered to win 2-0 against Tottenham on Wednesday without Kepa in goal, perhaps opening the door for Caballero to keep his place for the time being.
When asked who will get the nod for the upcoming trip to Fulham and Dynamo Kiev at Stamford Bridge, though, Sarri insisted the Carabao Cup episode won’t affect his decision.
“As I said in the press conference after the [Tottenham] match, the Kepa situation is closed,” Sarri told reporters, per Goal.
“Kepa is our first goalkeeper, but we are very happy for Willy that he can play in a very difficult match.
“Kepa will be on the pitch for one of the next two matches. I have not decided yet, I want to see the last two trainings of course, for every player.”
Is it too soon for Sarri to restore Kepa between the posts? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.News Now - Sport News