Heading into extra-time in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, it seemed as if Chelsea were on the road to redemption against Manchester City.
Having completely disgraced themselves in their 6-0 drubbing at the Etihad Stadium, the team put in a performance at Wembley that the supporters could take pride in. They went toe-to-toe with the Premier League champions, keeping them out for 120 minutes and had it not been for a late contentious offside call against Eden Hazard in stoppage time, could’ve even won it before extra-time.
Yet that completely changed when Kepa incredibly refused to be substituted before penalties, with Willy Caballero ready to take his place in goal. Disobeying team orders to take a penalty is one thing, but turning your back when being substituted was a sign of the complete lack of respect Maurizio Sarri now commands in the dressing room.
Chelsea’s players may not have downed tools for him at Wembley, but the actions of Kepa certainly indicate that Sarri’s position at the club is getting as close to untenable as possible.
The furious reaction of Sarri indicated the frustration he currently feels, with few buying his excuse of miscommunication at the full-time whistle. His reaction to the snub told its own story and that Kepa knew exactly what he was doing.
"It was misunderstood. In no moment was it my intention to disobey or anything like that with the boss," said Chelsea’s 24-year-old keeper.
"It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench and they explained everything well.
"He thought I couldn't continue, and - fundamentally - I was trying to say that physically I was fine."