The Blues boss clashed with the Spanish keeper during Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City on Sunday after Kepa point black refused to come off the pitch for Willy Caballero. Maurizio Sarri refused to confirm whether Kepa Arrizabalaga will play for Chelsea against Tottenham on Wednesday but added he will ‘send a message’ to the squad whatever he decides to do.
A cross-the-field argument between the pair ensued before Sarri was forced to back down and cancel the substitution. Ahead of the Spurs game, Sarri said: “He said sorry to the technical staff but it was enough. Then he said sorry to his team-mates, the club. He made a big mistake but we need to be taller and we don’t want to kill him.”
Sarri confirmed that the keeper, who appeared to be struggling with cramp during the final, is fit to play in the London derby. But was ambiguous when asked about his chances of starting. “Maybe yes, maybe no,” said the Chelsea boss, adding: “It will be a decision for the group. For all the players.” He later added: “I want to send a message to my group. The message could be Kepa is on the pitch or out of the pitch. I have to decide.”
When asked why he stormed down the tunnel and appeared to consider leaving the pitch, Sarri said: ‘No, I needed one minute to recover my calm. I was really very disappointed, very upset.’ Questions were then fielding about the possibility of the Italian losing his job, but once more Sarri batted them away and insisted he does not feel the pressure.’I am not under pressure, but you have to ask the club,’ he said
Kepa released a statement on Chelsea’s website following the cup final, which the Blues lost on penalties. It read: “I was very happy to play in my first cup final for Chelsea yesterday and very proud of the team performance. I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events. Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation.”
“I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.”