It will go down as one of the most infamous moments in Carabao Cup final history as Chelsea goalie Kepa Arrizabalaga appeared to refuse his manager’s orders by refusing to come off against Manchester City last season.
The Spaniard would not adhere to Maurizio Sarri’s wishes on the touchline and stayed on the pitch despite Chelsea wanting to replace him with Willy Caballero.
Having defied the Italian manager, who was clearly angry and stormed down the tunnel in frustration before returning, Kepa seemed to be injured but was soon ready to continue the game.
Now, six months on, Chelsea legend and assistant that day, Gianfranco Zola, has revealed what was a crazy situation, saying it ‘was not easy’ to deal with, nor make sense of.
“In the beginning he misunderstood,” Zola told beIN Sports . “He was pretending he was injured because he wanted to waste time.
“There was nothing really wrong but we then made some considerations. We knew we had Willy Caballero on the bench, who knew all of the Manchester City players and so it was an opportunity for us.”
Argentina international Caballero, having spent three years at Manchester City, would know what to expect as the players stepped up, so Chelsea believed they could use that to their advantage, especially as there No 1 keeper was struggling with fitness.
“We were going to make the change, he explained. “It wasn’t pre-arranged but we saw the day before he was injured, so we thought it was the injury coming back and we saw an opportunity because Caballero knows the Manchester City players so he can also be a good thing; simple as that.
“It was obviously not an easy situation to deal with. We could not believe it, we were speechless, we kept telling him to come off but he didn’t come”.
Looking back, Zola concedes the staff on the bench maybe could have done things differently, but says it was a bizarre and new situation.
“I mean, we could have dealt with it better probably, maybe the skipper could have gone to him and say ‘come to the touchline’ but in the end sometimes you have a situation like this.”