Manchester City defeats Chelsea: Kepa Arrizabalaga clashes with Maurizio Sarri
Coach Maurizio Sarri appeared to be overruled by his own goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga during a remarkable and bizarre finish to Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City.
With the game goalless and deep into extra-time, Kepa seemed to be struggling with cramp and Sarri readied substitute keeper Willy Caballero to come on for the final moments and the approaching penalty shootout.
However, when Chelsea went to make the substitution, Kepa refused to come off the pitch and insisted he was fit to continue, despite Sarri trying to complete the change regardless and imploring his player to leave the field from the touchline.
The situation escalated as referee Jon Moss was forced to ask Kepa to leave the field himself before going over to Sarri to ask for the manager to make a decision on the substitution.
The Chelsea manager eventually allowed Kepa to stay on before storming back to his dugout, slamming a water bottle into the floor and then marching off towards the tunnel.
Sarri then turned on his heels and returned to his technical area, but was clearly incensed by having his authority undermined in such a public way.
Disgraceful behaviour by Kepa.
But pathetically weak of Sarri to just surrender & let him stay on.
I’d have dragged him off by his cocky, stubborn little ears. https://t.co/mHhQfYqg8d
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 24, 2019
This is unbelievable. Regardless of what people think of his performance, #Sarri is still the manager of the team. #Kepa has proven to the world how some of #Chelsea players have been disrespectful to the coach. Never seen anything like this before! https://t.co/inBIyU8jXn
— Africando Bah (@africandobah) February 24, 2019
I have no idea what he is like as manager behind the scenes but I really like Sarri … and he has just protected a Keeper who totally disrespected him …
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) February 24, 2019
After the final whistle, Sarri appeared to clash with Kepa and then Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta before trying to offer some words of motivation to his team before the shootout.
In the shootout, Kepa allowed Sergio Aguero’s poor penalty to pass underneath him before saving from Leroy Sane, but he could not prevent Chelsea suffering defeat.
“It’s certainly not the end of it. It’s a cloud over a really good Chelsea performance,” said former captain John Terry.
“I think once the number goes up you have to come off. As a player you have to show that respect and come off. I get it that he doesn’t want to, he’s in the final, he’s played well, he’s doing well, if he’s told the physio and the medical department he’s OK …
“I can get his frustration but you deal with that after.”
Ex-football star Jamie Redknapp was equally stunned by the incident and also backed Sarri. “I thought I’d seen it all in football,” said the Sky Sports pundit. “I feel sorry for the manager. It’s such a difficult situation for him.”
One commentator said: “I haven’t seen anything like this in a long, long time.”
Former Premier League star Chris Sutton blasted the stubborn shot-stopper.
“Kepa should never play for Chelsea again. He’s a disgrace,” Sutton said.
“He’s undermined his manager. It’s disgusting. Never seen anything like it. If I was Sarri I would walk.”
City coach Pep Guardiola said in his press conference he had never seen someone refuse to come off the pitch like that before.
Amidst all that chaos, with Sarri storming off in a sulk down the tunnel after Kepa’s mutiny, one puzzled official had to ask fourth official Paul Tierney if the #CFC boss had been sent off. Never seen anything like it. What a mess #CHEMCI
— Paul Brown (@pbsportswriter) February 24, 2019
Speaking after the match, Sarri tried to clear up what he called a “misunderstanding”.
“I misunderstood the problem and only realised the situation when the doctor arrived at the bench,” he said.
“It was a big misunderstanding because I understood the keeper had cramp and was unable to go to the penalties. But it was not cramp and he could go to the penalties.”
Asked why he walked off towards the tunnel after the spat, Sarri added: “I needed to return to be quiet. He understood that I asked for a change for his physical problem and he said I haven’t a physical problem. And he was right.
“I realised after when the doctor arrived. I have talked to him but only to clarify because now I have understand the situation.”
This article first appeared on Sky Sports and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as ‘Disgusting’ act ‘never been seen before’