Pedro has backed Maurizio Sarri’s decision to drop Kepa Arrizabalaga against Tottenham after the goalkeeper refused to be substituted in the EFL Cup final.
Sarri has said Kepa “had to pay” for his mistake by missing the Spurs game after the Chelsea manager’s leadership was called into question against Manchester City.
Why was Kepa dropped against Spurs? Five key things to know…
- Kepa refused to be substituted in the final moments of extra-time during Sunday’s EFL Cup final.
- Sarri reacted angrily on the touchline with substitute Caballero left in limbo.
- Chelsea lost on penalties and the situation was initially labelled a misunderstanding by Sarri, but Kepa was eventually fined a week’s wages.
- Sarri then dropped Kepa for a crucial league meeting with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
- Chelsea won 2-0 and Cabellero kept his first clean sheet in a league home game for the Blues.
Kepa has been criticised for disrespecting his manager and Cabellero, resulting in him losing his place between the sticks against Spurs.
After the game, Sarri explained his decision and reiterated it was the right choice.
“It was the right decision: Kepa made a big mistake and paid with the club, so then he had to pay with the team,” Sarri said. “But now I think we have to stop.
“Kepa, from tomorrow, will be with us. I don’t know if he will be on the pitch in the next match or not, but in one of the next two, for sure. When you are young, you can make mistakes.
“The most important thing is that you need to understand very well, after every mistake. So now, for me, the issue is closed.”
Pedro, who opened the scoring in the London derby, later explained that the players were behind Sarri’s decision.
“There has been a lot of talk this week and that always destabilises [things] a little, but the truth is that in the dressing room we are together, as a great team,” Pedro told ESPN.
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“We have not given much importance to everything that has been talked about and in the end that is the most important thing. We are focused on doing well in every game to get the three points because from here to the end of the season they will be all finals and we will try to fight to be in the top four.
“This was a great match for us to gain confidence and stay there [in the fight for the top four].
“We have all talked to each other in the dressing room. We’ve also talked to Willy and we’ve talked to the coach. The truth is that we have solved all the problems and I think it has been a [small] incident rather than a serious problem.
“It always serves to learn. We are with Kepa, with Willy and with the manager. This is the path that we have to follow. Now we need to get ready very well for the match against Fulham because it is another final.”
Sarri: Being under pressure is “normal”
Sarri’s position has been increasingly scrutinised in recent weeks following a run of poor performances, especially in heavy away defeats to Bournemouth and Manchester City.
But improved displays in the EFL Cup final and against Tottenham appear to have bought Sarri some time, and the Italian claims being under pressure is just part of the job.
He added: “In this job, you are under pressure every week. If you’re lucky, every six months.
“It’s normal if you lose two or three matches in a row that you’ll be under pressure, but that’s the same for every coach. We hope this is the turning point.
“It was really very important to win because we are fighting for the top four. Maybe, with this result, we can involve Tottenham in this battle. The gap is very large, seven points, but maybe.”