Kepa Arrizabalaga defies Maurizio Sarri and quadruple is still on for Pep Guardiola

Matt McGeehan 25/02/2019
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Kepa Arrizabalaga

Manchester City beat Chelsea 4-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes to win the League Cup final on Sunday.

Here, we look at the talking points from Wembley.

KEPA DEFIES SARRI 

Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga returned following a hamstring problem to start. He required treatment in extra time and Blues head coach Maurizio Sarri readied Willy Caballero to come on. Caballero saved three penalties for City in their 2016 League Cup win over Liverpool. Kepa’s name was called and his number shown, but the Spaniard refused to go off. Sarri was livid at being defied by the 24-year-old, who was signed for a world record fee for a keeper of £71.6million. Chelsea beat Tottenham on penalties to reach the final and Kepa saved from Leroy Sane to level matters at 2-2 after three kicks apiece. But David Luiz hit a post and City did not miss again in a 4-3 win sealed by Raheem Sterling’s spot-kick.

QUADRUPLE STILL ON

Pep Guardiola with the League Cup

Pep Guardiola with the League Cup

Guardiola downplayed the prospect of four trophies after the come-from-behind Champions League win at Schalke, but the unprecedented feat remains possible. Sunday was a good day for City, who, prior to retaining the trophy, saw Liverpool draw at Manchester United. Guardiola’s men are a point behind Liverpool having played the same number of games. City’s fourth League Cup in six years could be a prelude for further success. Only once since Swansea beat Bradford in 2013 have the competition’s winners finished the season with just the one trophy. That was City in 2016. Fernandinho’s departure in second-half stoppage time with an apparent groin problem could be significant across the remainder of the season.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SARRI’S FUTURE? 

Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri

This will likely result in a stay of execution for Sarri, whose position was in doubt after a series of embarrassing losses. The 6-0 defeat at City, swiftly following the 4-0 loss at Bournemouth saw the Blues fans lose faith. They voiced their frustration with the inflexibility of the Italian during last Monday’s FA Cup loss to Manchester United, but he showed his tactical acumen here. Chelsea play Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday and face Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League last-16. They still have two possible avenues to return to the Champions League, so owner Roman Abramovich will almost certainly be patient, for now.

THE TRUTH? 

Chelsea inflicted Manchester City’s first loss of the season with a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in December. City humiliated the Blues two weeks ago, their 6-0 win Chelsea’s biggest defeat in 28 years. Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger and Sarri said the true measure of this season’s Chelsea would come at Wembley. Chelsea were set up to stifle City in the first half, with Hazard deployed as a ‘false nine’. City did not take their chances and the tactical decision showed a modicum of flexibility in Sarri. The game opened up in the second half, with Hazard causing problems, but the sides could not be separated after a goalless 120 minutes, resulting in penalties.

HAZARD-OUS USE OF EDEN PAYS OFF 

Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard

Sarri feels Hazard playing as the attacking focal point makes Chelsea more defensively sound, the implication being Hazard is a liability on the left. Hazard played there for the first time under Sarri in December’s win over City, but there were mixed results thereafter before Gonzalo Higuain’s arrival. Hazard expressed his frustration at playing as a ‘false nine’ under Antonio Conte and has not appeared happy there, likely adding to his wish to seek a summer move to Real Madrid. The selection initially blunted Chelsea’s attack and left Hazard isolated, but he exploited space in the second half, tormenting City’s defence. The best chance Hazard created saw N’Golo Kante fire over. Higuain came on in extra time, but could not break the deadlock.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri labels Kepa Arrizabalaga substitute snub 'big misunderstanding'

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(epa).

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to come off during the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City was due to a “big misunderstanding”.

Arrizabalaga defied his manager’s orders late in extra time after receiving treatment for an apparent bout of cramp, despite the fourth official putting up his number on the board and Willy Caballero being primed to come on.

After the Spaniard, who was within his rights to decline the substitution according to International football Association Board (IFAB) rules, stood his ground, Sarri stormed off down the tunnel, furious that the change was not made.

Arrizabalaga stayed on the pitch as the first trophy of the season was decided by a penalty shootout after 120 goalless minutes at Wembley.

He saved Leroy Sane’s spot-kick, but City still won the competition thanks to Raheem Sterling’s decisive kick sealing a 4-3 win.

Sarri revealed after the match that he thought his goalkeeper was suffering from cramp, wanting to swap him for Caballero, and only found out he was not injured after the incident.

“It was a big misunderstanding, I understood that he had cramp so I didn’t want the goalkeeper to go to the penalties in that physical condition,” Sarri said.

“Then I realised the situation when only the doctor arrived to the bench after four minutes and in the meantime I wanted Caballero on the pitch.

“The goalkeeper only wanted to let me know that he was in condition to go to the penalties. It was a big misunderstanding.”

Even if it was a misunderstanding, Arrizabalaga still appeared to show Sarri a huge amount of disrespect, which does little to quell the suggestion that the under-pressure Italian does not have control of his dressing room.

The former Athletic Bilbao keeper will not face any disciplinary action.

“Kepa was right, but wrong in the way he conducted himself,” Sarri added.

“Mentally he was right, he was able to go to the penalties. He was right for the motivation but not for the conduct.

“I was really angry. I want to talk with him because he needs to understand that we can get in trouble, especially with you (the media).

“I have to explain the situation to Kepa but without any other problem.”

After setting up for the Wembley final in a manner that would allow no repeat of their 6-0 Premier League humiliation of just a couple of weeks ago, Chelsea put up a good show and improved as the game went on.

They restricted City to very few clear-cut chances and could have snatched a winner towards the end of normal time.

Despite Arrizabalaga’s actions, Sarri insists the performance shows Chelsea’s players are behind their manager.

“After this match I have to say that I’m sure,” he said. “Because they played exactly what I asked. Today I am proud of my players.

“You have to ask the club (about the future), here I am really very happy. I think in the last three matches we are improving, we have improved a lot.

“Today we showed to everyone that we could become a very solid team, because we conceded nothing to the opponents, against Man City that is not easy.

“So I’m really very happy with my players and today I’m proud of my players.”

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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Goodbye Sarriball, hello Sarri-bore?

Chelsea showed a different face, an incredibly defensive one, but they couldn’t quite pip Manchester City in a Carabao Cup final that went all the way.

There were only three shots on target in 120 minutes of an intense and often absorbing encounter that completely lost its way in the drudgery of extra-time.

The flashpoint came at the end when a hobbled Kepa Arrizabalaga humiliated Maurizio Sarri by staying on the pitch despite Willy Caballero’s number being called.

The egg was on both Kepa and his manager as Sergio Aguero’s weak penalty slipped through his grasp, before City went on to lift the Carabao Cup by 4-3 in the shootout. Our City ratings are below …

MAN CITY (4-3-3)

Ederson – Could have got away with planting some flowers on the border of his box for all the goalmouth action he saw 6

Kyle Walker – Doesn’t have much ingenuity, either on the flank or tucking inside, when faced with such defensive-minded opposition. 5

Nicolas Otamendi – Superb tackle to keep his concentration and thwart Hazard during an ultra-rare Chelsea counterattack. 7

Aymeric Laporte – Saw the ball more than anyone in the first half, but found it difficult to part the deep blue sea of shirts. Off injured at half-time for Kompany. 6

Oleksandr Zinchenko – Even a team like City’s needs its fair share of dependables and Zinchenko – out of position really – rarely lets them down 6

Kevin De Bruyne – De Bruyne needed to be laser-accurate given how deep Chelsea sat back. He’s fully capable, but he’s not been up to it since his injury return. 4

Fernandinho – Uh-oh. Went off holding his groin, there is not a City player who can replicate what he does at the base of midfield 6

David Silva – Seemingly a tight game in which old, cool heads were needed. If anything showed his age in a non-descript display 5

Bernardo Silva – Had some real pep in his step in the first half but someone must have swept it from under his feet at half-time 6

Sergio Aguero – Wonderful finish that was offside by a hair’s breadth. Otherwise only noticeable for his blond hair, asphyxiated in the middle 5

Raheem Sterling – On the cusp of creation numerous times until a second Chelsea defender quickly scuttled across to help Azpilicueta. What a penalty to win it 7

SUBSTITUTES

Vincent Kompany (45′) – Always looked shaky at the prospect of a counter, luckily for him they were few and far between 5

Ilkay Gundogan (79′) – Summed up the futility of extra-time when he flung a corner-kick out of play 5

Leroy Sane (86′) – Could have counted the kicks he had on one hand – perhaps one finger – in the 30-plus minutes he was on the pitch. N/A

Danilo (90′) – Like-for-like swap with Fernandinho, because of injury. Was never going to inspire from there N/A

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