Kepa Arrizabalaga has opened up about the 2019 League Cup final incident, the difficult 2019-20 season, and the big impact it has had on his career at Chelsea so far.
At this point, most Chelsea fans would look back and laugh about it. But for Arrizabalaga, it was a regretful moment.
The goalkeeper was receiving some treatment from the physio in the closing stages of the extra-time in the League Cup final against Manchester City a couple of years ago when his number showed on the board.
Then Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri wanted to replace him with Willy Caballero.
The scoreline was still 0-0 at that point, and the tie looked set to be decided by a penalty shoot-out — and Arrizabalaga felt he could go on.
Arrizabalaga refused to come off despite Sarri’s decision, and the manager was furious. The Italian even started to walk off down the tunnel before eventually returning to the dugout.
Chelsea eventually lost the final, 4-3 on penalties, but the incident stole the limelight.
Chelsea v Manchester City – Carabao Cup Final
Social media abuse following the incident
Arrizabalaga’s “disrespectful” action, as John Terry described it, went viral on social media.
The Spain international has now had his say about the incident.
“My intention, right or wrong, had only been to waste time to help the team,” he wrote on The Player’s Tribune.
“I didn’t have any serious problem that was going to keep me from continuing to play.”
He explained that he tried to signal that he was fine to continue playing, but due to the noise inside the stadium, he argued that Sarri did not get the message.
“When the fourth official raised the board, clearly I should have come off, and I’m sorry I didn’t,” he added.
“I was wrong, and I am sorry for everyone who was involved.”
Tough season under Frank Lampard
Arrizabalaga kept his role as Chelsea’s No.1 in the following season when Chelsea appointed club legend Lampard as their new manager.
It was a “difficult” season, the goalkeeper admitted.
“Little by little, I lost confidence and ended up making some mistakes,” he explained.
“I understood the criticism, of course.
“We play under pressure, and it is part of the job to deal with negative coverage. But sometimes it goes too far.”
He said he received a lot of abuse on social media after his underwhelming performances in 2019/20.
“It is O.K. to say that a player has made a mistake, but when you only go out to hurt someone, or write lies that have nothing to do with football, you cross a line,” he added.
Not ‘completely’ happy with his situation at Chelsea
Last summer, Lampard brought in Edouard Mendy from Rennes, who has immediately replaced Arrizabalaga as the first-choice goalkeeper.
Even after Thomas Tuchel took over the reign, Mendy kept his spot.
While Arrizabalaga admitted that he could clearly see the reason behind it, still could not hide his frustration over the lack of game time at Chelsea.
“Right now, I feel really good at Chelsea, both physically and mentally,” he said.
“Of course I would like to play more minutes.
“I would be lying if I said that I was completely happy with my situation.
“But I also respect the coach’s decisions. I understand that there are other players who are doing well.
“The team is doing great, too, and in the end that is the most important thing.”