Maurizio Sarri believes his public confrontation with goalkeeper Kepa Arizabalaga in the Carabao Cup final has brought everyone at Chelsea closer together.
Chelsea fined Kepa earlier this week for his refusal to be substituted in extra time against Manchester City at Wembley, and Sarri consequently dropped the club’s record signing for Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over rivals Tottenham in the Premier League.
Earlier this week, Pedro said that Kepa’s act did not cause any split in the Chelsea dressing room, and Sarri insisted that his team has actually emerged stronger from the episode.
“When there is a difficult situation, I think it’s very difficult for everybody,” Sarri said. “But it’s a big opportunity, also. You have to take that opportunity. Of course, it was really a very bad experience, but I think we can come out of this situation better than before.
“When there is a very difficult experience you can come out always different than before: better or worse. I think that, from this situation, we came out better.”
Asked how it has benefited him and his players, Sarri replied: “For the players, I think it was an experience useful for staying more united. Also for me, with my staff and players. We are more compact.”
Another of Sarri’s biggest selection decisions for the win over Spurs was restoring Marcus Alonso to the Chelsea defence only a day after admitting that Emerson Palmieri — who impressed against City at Wembley — was in better form.
Alonso repaid his head coach’s faith with his most solid performance in several months, and Sarri said he expects even his best players to go through difficult moments.
“You have to accept that a player cannot stay at the top of his physical condition and mental condition for 11 months,” Sarri said when asked about Alonso. “So we were lucky because, in that period, we had a very good moment for Emerson.
“And now I think Marcos started to return to his best. But, in 11 months, you have to accept one or two months of difficulty.”
Sarri emerged from a defining weeek at Chelsea with two improved performances against City and Tottenham, and the Italian challenged his players to maintain their recent high standards against Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.
“I am really very happy with the last three matches because we had good performances,” he said. “And also with the results. We lost a final only on penalties, but we played really a very good match.
“For our confidence, it was important to play at the same level against City after the match in the Premier League.
“I was really happy with the last three matches. We still need consistency and still to continue, especially with the performances. The results are only a consequence — sometimes not, but in 95 percent of cases [they are].”