Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has finally brought to light the insights of his infamous League Cup fall out with then manager Maurizio Sarri at Wembley in 2019.
Kepa Arrizabalaga states the 2019 Carabao Cup incident with manager Maurizio Sarri was nothing more than a ‘misunderstanding’
Chelsea took on Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley back in February 2019, and the match was heading into extra time after a goalless opening 90 minutes.
Towards the end of the stipulated extra time with penalty shootout then minutes away, Kepa Arrizabalaga stayed down after making a save, possibly injured and Sarri had then responded by calling back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who was a penalty specialist to warm up and get ready to be substituted on.
However, when Kepa’s number appeared on the fourth official’s board, the Spaniard began to scream and point animatedly towards the Blues bench, insisting he was fine to continue. Kepa further refused to leave the pitch despite being told on by teammate David Luiz, with assistant coach Gianfranco Zola also trying his best to calm Kepa down and get him substituted, but to fail.
Kepa continued to stand his ground much to Sarri’s rage, as the manager furiously stormed down the tunnel for a brief period with the match still on. Though Kepa made a good save in the penalty shootouts, Chelsea went onto lose the game in the tie-breakers with the Spaniard disparaged for what he now explains was a ‘misunderstanding’ between the two ends.
“It was all a big misunderstanding.”
“Manchester City were dominating the game in extra time and there was barely any time left until penalties. After making a save, I felt something in my leg and I called for the physio to make sure it was nothing. Above all, though, I wanted to make sure that we as a team could catch our breath.” Kepa wrote in detail about the incidence in The Player’s Tribune.
“Suddenly, I saw that the coach, Maurizio Sarri, had sent Willy Caballero to warm up. He thought I couldn’t go on. My intention, right or wrong, had only been to waste time to help the team. I didn’t have any serious problem that was going to keep me from continuing to play.”
“I tried to signal that I was O.K., that I wasn’t injured. But we were at Wembley in front of more than 80,000 people, so of course Sarri didn’t understand me. When the fourth official raised the board, clearly I should have come off, and I’m sorry I didn’t.”
“I was wrong, and I am sorry for everyone who was involved: for Maurizio Sarri, who it seemed like I had undermined in public; for Willy, a teammate and a great professional; and for all my teammates and Chelsea fans who had to put up with everything — all the noise that was generated during the game and then in the days after.” Kepa added about the incident and the repercussions it had.
Kepa explained that although the situation within the club had quickly escalated, the reaction outside the walls of Stamford Bridge by the fans helped create an unfair picture him and of the situation.
“Inside the club it was no big deal. I had a chat with the boss, we talked about how we had each seen the situation, and we cleared the air. After that I got dropped for one game, but a week later I was back in the team.” stated Kepa, who won the Champions League with Chelsea back in 2020-21.
“But outside the club, it got out of control. When I picked up my phone in the dressing room after the League Cup final, I realised that I had become worldwide news. For the next three or four days it didn’t stop. It was overwhelming. And clearly, most people who saw the pictures thought that I had disrespected Maurizio.”
“I felt misunderstood, because it had never been my intention to snub the coach. I had only tried to tell him I was O.K. I tried to explain this to the press, but I couldn’t.” Kepa added, assuring that now the incidence is in the past and he continues to have a great relationship with the Italian.