Chelsea goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga has broken silence concerning the row he had with manager Maurizio Sarri during the Carabao Cup loss to Manchester City.
The row started when Kepa refused to be substituted after suffering a cramp injury. Willy Caballero was already waiting on the touch line to replace him.
Sarri could be seen at the touch line angrily reacting before Kepa made way for the tunnel and even smashed a water bottle on the ground.
Explaining the whole scenario as a misunderstanding, Kepa said:
“I have to say it was misunderstood. In no moment was it my intention to disobey, or anything like that with the boss. Just that it was misunderstood, because I had been attended to by the medics twice, and he thought that I wasn’t in condition to continue.
“It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench, and they explained everything well. This was nothing to do with the problems I had this week, with [hamstring] it wasn’t that.
“And, well, it was misunderstood. Because he thought I couldn’t continue, and – fundamentally – I was trying to say that physically I was fine.
Kepa continued by stating that his action was a delay tactics to enable his team draw breathe after being exhausted.
“I thought the bench felt I couldn’t continue, because it was the second time I’d gone to ground. It was extra-time. We’d run a lot so [going to ground] was also a way of stopping the match.
“We’d had a few moments suffering, defending, so it was to stop the match and for the team to draw breath and not a moment where I was saying I couldn’t continue. I know everyone is talking a lot about this, but it’s my opinion, how I lived it from inside.”
Speaking about the row, Sarri also corroborated Kepa’s stance of it all being a misunderstanding.
“It was a big misunderstanding. I understood he had cramp, so I didn’t want the goalkeeper to go to the penalties in that physical condition. I realise the situation after three or four minutes when the doctor arrived on the bench.
“I wanted Caballero on the pitch, but the goalkeeper wanted to let me know he was in condition to go to the penalties. It was only a big misunderstanding. Kepa was right, but in the wrong way. Wrong in the way he conducted himself, but mentally he was right because he was able to go to the penalties.
He concluded by expressing delight in the improvement Chelsea made against Manchester City whom they lost 6-0 to in the EPL few weeks ago.
“Today I’m really very happy because my feeling is that we are improving. We are improving because we could become a very solid team, I think. After today, we conceded nothing to Manchester City , and that’s not really very easy.
“They’re very dangerous in the attacking phase, and usually score a lot. So I’m happy with the performance, and I saw the match on the pitch that I prepared yesterday. So, for a coach, it’s a very important thing.”