Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea makes a mess of Edouard Mendy’s effort and gift the Carabao Cup to Liverpool… Thomas Tuchel takes the blame

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Chelsea goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga walks onto the Wembley Stadium pitch in the last one minute of extra time in the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday, February 27, like a hero who could stop any form of shot but the revise was the case.

The tactical gamble of coach Thomas Tuchel backfired big time to the extent people began to wonder whether Kepa needed to come on in the first place.

Recall that on Sunday, a very resilient Chelsea side faced a very organized Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final at the Wembley Stadium. The thrilling encounter dragged for 90 minutes without an allowed goal but with a couple of disallowed goals and a couple of goalscoring chances.

The same pattern continued in the 30 minutes extra time as Chelsea’s goal was disallowed due to an offside in the build-up to the goal.

When it was clear that the game could not be won in regular time, Thomas Tuchel decided to direct his attention to penalties and decided to bring in Kepa Arrizabalaga who is said to be better than Edouard Mendy when it comes to saving penalty kicks. But the decision turned out to be a disaster.

How did Edouard Mendy perform during the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool?

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea makes a mess of Edouard Mendy's effort and gift the Carabao Cup to Liverpool... Thomas Tuchel takes the blame

Ahead of the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday, February 27, 2022, the argument was who would stand between the sticks for Chelsea against Liverpool – Edouard Mendy or Kepa Arrizabalaga? This argument came up because Kepa was the goalkeeper that Chelsea used to execute the previous stages of the competition this season.

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At the end of the day, coach Thomas Tuchel decided to settle for his most trusted hands, Mendy.

As expected, Edouard Mendy gave a classical account of himself by keeping Chelsea in the game for 120 minutes.

The Senegalese goalkeeper was called to duty in the first half when he had to make a double save within seconds. First, he stopped Naby Keïta’s long-range effort, and then stopped Sadio Mane’s close-range shot. Mendy also stopped Luis Diaz’s one-on-one effort and prevented Virgil van Dijk from breaking Chelsea’s heart before stoppage time.

Despite all these heroic efforts, coach Tuchel could not trust the Senegalese goalkeeper to handle the spot-kicks, hence, he had to make way for Kepa.

How Kepa Arrizabalaga gifted the Carabao Cup to Liverpool

Kepa Arrizabalaga of Chelsea makes a mess of Edouard Mendy's effort and gift the Carabao Cup to Liverpool... Thomas Tuchel takes the blame

Though Kepa Arrizabalaga might not be so outstanding when it comes to stopping long-range shots, he has proven to be a better goalkeeper when it comes to handling spot-kicks.

He proved that in August 2021 when coach Thomas Tuchel had to substitute Mendy for Kepa ahead of penalty kicks in the UEFA Super Cup final against Villarreal. The decision paid off as he went on to win the trophy for Chelsea.

Unfortunately for Kepa, the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday was a different scenario. Coach Tuchel brought him in to help Chelsea during penalty shootouts at Wembley Stadium but could not perform any magic.

At the end of the day, Kepa who reportedly earns £155,000-per-week could not save any of Liverpool’s 11 spot-kicks. To make matters worse, when it came to his turn to take his spot-kick, he kicked it to the sky.

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Hence, Liverpool beat Chelsea 11-10 on penalties to lift the Carabao Cup. The league cup is Jurgen Klopp’s first league cup in over six years in charge of Liverpool.

Kepa Arrizabalaga does not have a head for Carabao Cup

Kepa Arrizabalaga

This is the second time in Kepa’s career at Chelsea that he made headlines for the wrong reasons in a Carabao Cup final.

Recall that in 2019, Chelsea made it to the final of the competition against Manchester City. Kepa Arrizabalaga who has been at Chelsea since August 8, 2018, appeared to be injured. Hence, the then coach of Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri decided to substitute him. But the 27-year-old Spanish goalkeeper refused to leave the pitch.

After a series of back and forth, the coach who was so angry that he almost stormed out of the stadium decided to allow Kepa to finish the game.

At the end of the saga, Manchester City beat Chelsea 4-3 on penalties to lift the title.

In the 2022 edition of the tournament, the saga was not about Kepa refusing to leave the pitch when he was substituted, he failed to be a hero to Chelsea. He could not save any of Liverpool’s 11 kicks and went on to shoot his penalty to the sky to gift Liverpool the title.

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Thomas Tuchel blames himself

After the 11-10 defeat to Liverpool on penalties, Chelsea’s coach, Thomas Tuchel said he decided to bring on Kepa Arrizabalaga for the spot-kicks, hence, he said the blame should be on him.

“We feel bad for him, of course”, he said. “It was a bit harsh that he was the guy to miss the only penalty but there is no blame.

“I make the decisions when I make the decisions and I can’t re-judge them when I know the outcome. We don’t know what would’ve happened if we left Mendy on the pitch. No blame on Kepa. Blame on me as I’m the guy who makes the decisions. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. This is life as a football coach.”

On the part of Kepa, the Spanish goalkeeper took to Twitter after the game to tweet: “To fall and rise. Disappointed after a big effort during the tournament. We keep working.
Thanks, @chelseafc family for your support.”

Watch the full highlights of the Carabao Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool

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