Chelsea were in the limelight for the wrong reasons last month when Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the pitch in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City about a fortnight ago.
Kepa defied the manager’s decision to come off for second choice goalkeeper Willy Caballero as the game approached penalty kicks. City went on to win the tie 4-3 on penalties, and Chelsea’s fine display was marred by Kepa’s incident.
Though Maurizio Sarri was visibly furious on the pitch, he remained calm when speaking to the media afterwards and insisted that the incident was just a misunderstanding which has been settled.
Kepa was dropped for the following game against Tottenham with Caballero in goal, and the Blues won that fixture 2-0. Interestingly, since the Kepa row, Chelsea have won all their games, beating Spurs, Fulham and Dynamo Kiev.
Sarri has claimed Arrizabalaga’s controversial refusal to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final has become a good thing for the team.
“As you know, for me, it was really very important the performance in the final against Manchester City,” Sarri said.
“Two weeks before that match we lost 6-0 in Manchester. A fortnight later, the players were able to play at the same level as them, so that was important for our confidence.”
“In the end, the Kepa situation was a good thing for our group, too,” Sarri said.
“In the last five matches, we won four matches and drew against Manchester City. In five matches, we conceded only one goal. So we are improving in consistency.
“But we have to be careful. We had a long period of good results in the past and then, suddenly, two weeks of disaster. So we have to be careful.”
Chelsea are in good form and will be looking to win their fourth game in a row when they host Wolves on Sunday. Sarri has hailed his team’s recent form but has warned them to be careful.
“In the last five matches we won four and drew against Manchester City,” Sarri pointed out, before issuing a warning.
“In five matches we conceded only one goal. Now we are improving in consistency, we are improving in defensive solidity, but we have to be careful. In the past we had a long period of results, and then suddenly two weeks of disaster. So we have to be careful.”