Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has insisted that his dispute with goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during the Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City was simply a misunderstanding.
Towards the end of extra time, Kepa twice required treatment on a hamstring injury, prompting Sarri to call for him to be substituted for Willy Caballero. The Argentian was ready to come on, but Kepa simply refused to leave the pitch, prompting an incredibly irate reaction from the Italian.
However, speaking after the game, Sarri admitted that the incident was down to a lack of understanding. He is quoted by The Guardian as saying: “I think we have to talk about football because we played a very good match. In that situation it was a misunderstanding, I heard there was a problem and we needed to change it.
“I realised the situation only when the doctor arrived on the bench after some minutes. It was a misunderstanding, I understood the goalkeeper had cramp and would be unable to go to the penalties.
“I needed only to return, to be quiet I think [on his near-walkout]. As I say, I asked for a change for this physical problem and he said he hadn’t a physical problem. So he was right I think. I have to talk with [Kepa] but only to clarify because now I have understood very well the situation.
“I am very happy here. I think in the last three matches we have improved a lot. Today we showed we could become a very solid team. We conceded nothing to the opponents and against Man City that is not easy. I am very proud of my players.”
He was also asked whether the result will impact his future, but Sarri stated that he remains confident he retains the support of the Chelsea players. He is quoted by Sky Sports as saying: “You have to ask the club about my future – not me but I am sure the players are behind me because of the way they played.
“I am proud of my players. I think the club can be proud of today’s performance and the players.”