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Kepa Arrizabalaga : still Chelsea's No 1, insists Maurizio Sarri


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Sarri: Kepa still my No.1
Maurizio Sarri says Kepa Arrizabalaga has "paid to the team" after he was dropped for Chelsea's win over Tottenham, but insists he is still his No 1.Maurizio Sarri says Kepa Arrizabalaga is still Chelsea's No 1 goalkeeper

Maurizio Sarri says Kepa Arrizabalaga has "paid to the team" after he was dropped for Chelsea's 2-0 win over Tottenham, but insists he is still his No 1 goalkeeper.

Arrizabalaga was left on the bench after his show of dissent to the manager during Sunday's Carabao Cup final defeat against Manchester City, where he refused to be subbed off, with Willy Caballero taking his place on Wednesday.
The Spaniard was fined a week's wages, and now Sarri says he has paid further for the incident in being left on the bench.
Though he could not say if Arrizabalaga would be back for Sunday's game with Fulham, Sarri insists the summer signing is still first choice, and will play one of the next two games, with Dynamo Kiev at Stamford Bridge next Thursday in the Europa League.
sked if he is still No 1 at Chelsea, Sarri said: "Of course."
Willy Caballero started the game and kept a clean sheet
Willy Caballero started the game and kept a clean sheet
He added: "I think it was the right decision, Kepa made a big mistake, he paid with the club, and then he had to pay with the team.
"But now I have to think we have to stop, Kepa from tomorrow will be with us. He is back in the team for the weekend, I don't know in the next match if he will be on the pitch or not, but one of the next two he will [start].
"When you are young I think you can make mistakes, and the most important thing is that you need to understand very well after every mistake. For me, now the best thing is to close it."
Asked if his decision was behind Chelsea's improved performance on Wednesday, Sarri was adamant it was similar to Sunday's showing at Wembley, and praised his side's aggression.

Highlights of Chelsea's win over Tottenham in the Premier League
"No, I don't think it was [related to dropping Kepa]. The performance in this match was really very good, but it was in line with the last one. The result was different, but the kind of performance is similar.
"We hope [it is the turning point], but it is most important to think we need a consistency in performances, in results, and as you know very well in this championship it is not easy.
"It is not easy to have consistency of results, but now we need points. It was really very important tonight. Maybe with this result we could involve Tottenham in this fight, because the gap is very large, seven points, but we have to play one match [in hand]."
Pedro's strike and an embarrassing Kieran Trippier own goal gave Chelsea three points, leaving them firmly in the hunt for the top four.
Maurizio Sarri believes he is not under the kind of pressure people have suggested
Maurizio Sarri believes he is not under the kind of pressure people have suggested
It has eased the heat on Sarri somewhat, and the Italian revealed he had spoken to the club several times recently, and does not believe his job was under as much pressure as the media had suggested.
"I spoke to the club two or three times in the last days, but the problem wasn't so big as you write. I don't know, maybe it wasn't true, I don't know, but it's not a big problem for me, because in this job you are under pressure every week. I think it is normal for every coach."
It was clear before kick-off that Chelsea fans were split on Kepa-gate. Both goalkeeper's name announcements were met with cheers, and a quick scrawl through social media saw equal amounts of praise for Sarri for putting his foot down, and anger at 'throwing away' a game against a rival.
The pre-match warm-ups were strictly professional; the coaching attention was on Caballero as Kepa turned provider for most of the drills, but both routinely high-fived in-between reps. Nothing to see here, it seemed. But there is a wider point to be made beyond goalkeeper selections.
At 120 minutes on Sunday, Kepa's actions looked to be the final nail in Sarri's coffin, a show of disobedience which seemingly summed up a lack of control. But the way the Italian has dealt with the situation since has turned a negative situation into a beneficial one for his job security.
Sarri seemed more relaxed in his post-match press conference
Sarri seemed more relaxed in his post-match press conference
Sarri was right to control his emotion on Sunday and instead point to a fine performance. The Kepa incident was described as a "misunderstanding" on Sunday, but on Wednesday it was "big mistake" from the goalkeeper. In controlling the messaging, and being more honest after a victory over a big rival, he has done himself a favour.
"We are improving," he said at Wembley, and again on Wednesday we saw a Chelsea side who played to their strengths and frustrated one of the top teams in England.
Sarri insists Chelsea are playing more like he wants, within his original vision and still very much at Plan A phase. But many would argue he has moved to a secret Plan B he is unwilling to label; Chelsea intelligently soaked up Spurs pressure after the first goal, rather than remaining open and susceptible.
This whole episode seems to have relaxed Sarri, even joking with a reporter before about why he wasn't in Tuesday's press conference. "What are you, my wife?" the reporter replied, prompting big laughter from the manager. It's a quite turnaround which may be looked back on as Sarri's big moment.

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