Getty Images

Chelsea players Luiz, Azpilicueta, Rudiger open up on Kepa defiance

1 Comment

Chelsea players all over the pitch tried to play mediator as goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga shockingly refused to be substituted towards the end of the Carabao Cup final on Sunday.

While Kepa shocked manager Maurizio Sarri with his act of defiance, others looked to calm the situation. Defender David Luiz was first on the scene, approaching Kepa during the confusion and speaking in his ear while the goalkeeper looked to the bench.

[ WATCH: Kepa clashes with Sarri by refusing sub ]

“I told him to respect the decision of the coach,” Luiz told the media after the match. “But, I don’t know if the coach wanted to change him because he was feeling pain or it was his [tactical] decision. I think the coach he wished to do the substitution because of the injury, he didn’t understand that [Kepa was ok].”

Fellow center-back Antonio Rudiger was on hand as well to calm Sarri as the boss looked to have angry words with his goalkeeper during the break before penalties. However, he wasn’t in a sharing mood after the match as the media looked to get his view of the events.

[ MORE: Sarri, Kepa explain Carabao Cup “misunderstanding” ]

“This is something the coach and the player have to speak about,” Rudiger said. “I cannot say much about it. I think, for sure, the coach and the goalkeeper will speak about it and everything will be fine.”

However, many Chelsea fans noted that captain Cesar Azpilicueta was nowhere to be found during the heated moments. That’s because, he says, he was on the opposite end of the field. “Honestly I don’t know because I was on the other side of the pitch so I cannot comment on this incident,” he said to Sky Sports. There was plenty of discontent after the match about Azpilicueta’s lack of response, with fans believing the captain should be the first to step in and help calm the situation.

Azpilicueta has never been an outspoken or fiery individual, but has worn the captain’s armband the entire season, having played every single minute in Premier League play and nearly every minute of the whole Carabao Cup run. He is not yet the official full-time captain, but has worn the armband all season with captain Gary Cahill out of the squad. It would have been difficult to not notice the incident at all, even if “on the other side of the pitch,” because the verbal back-and-forth lasted a good two full minutes and presented a massive delay in the match. Nevertheless, the captain pled the fifth to explain why he wasn’t involved, and it will be interesting if Sarri not only disciplines Kepa for his public display of insubordination, but also Azpilicueta for not fulfilling his role as captain.

Higuain, Hazard too much for Huddersfield (video)

Leave a comment
  • Higuain scores his 1st two Chelsea goals
  • Hazard also scores twice
  • Luiz adds deflected marker

Whatever Maurizio Sarri said after Chelsea’s beatdown by Bournemouth, it was the tonic.

Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard both bagged braces as Chelsea hammered Huddersfield Town 5-0 on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea is likely to stay the weekend in fourth with 50 points (unless Arsenal beats Man City by five or more goals on Sunday).

Huddersfield Town is 12 points off safety.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams tempted the goal early, with Ross Barkley just missing his target with a spinning effort and Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy snapping a shot wide himself.

Higuain put Chelsea ahead from a terrific pass from N'Golo Kante, and the finish was very much as advertised, with touch and power to the short side of Jonas Lossl.

Hazard then took advantage of a chance from the spot produced by a tripping Cesar Azpilicueta and his mark Elias Kachunga. He finished it, then was upset not to win another chance himself in stoppage time.

Town was very unfortunate in the 55th minute, when Andreas Christensen stepped on Kachunga in the box but was not whistled for a penalty.

Hazard turned his mark inside out in the 64th minute, but no one was at the back post for his dangerous cross through the six.

So he did it himself; Hazard ran onto an incisive Barkley pass and broke Lossl’s ankles before slotting inside the near post.

Kante then set up Higuain again, a deflected strike which looked pretty after zipping into the upper 90.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Willian wins it for Chelsea v. Newcastle (video)

Leave a comment
  • Luiz sets up Pedro opener
  • Clark levels before half for Newcastle
  • Willian scores beauty off Hazard assist
  • Magpies drop into 18th

Stop us if you’ve read this one before: Chelsea has firmed up its Top Four credentials and Newcastle United is back in the drop zone.

Keep reading anyway, as the Blues got goals from Pedro and Willian in an entertaining 2-1 win over the Magpies on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Ciaran Clark scored for Newcastle, who is now a point back of Cardiff City and Southampton. The Magpies host the Bluebirds next weekend.

Chelsea now has a six-point advantage on fifth place Arsenal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pedro made it 1-0 in the ninth minute, as David Luiz played the Spaniard over the top of the Newcastle defense. Ciaran Clark lost Pedro, who chipped Martin Dubravka with the Irish defender draped all over him.

There were not a ton more chances early, with Newcastle center back Florian Lejeune hitting a ball into the hands of Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 27th.

A surprising rush saw a nice flick by Salomon Rondon spring Ayoze Perez on goal but the lunging Spaniard hit the ball wide of his countryman’s near post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Pedro almost regained the lead for Chelsea but was denied by Dubravka in the 47th minute.

Willian restored Chelsea’s lead with a goal that earned a collective gasp from the crowd, as he cut right to earn space past Yedlin for a shot that took a slight turn off Jamaal Lascelles‘ head on its way into goal.

Perez had calls for a penalty unheard, and Willian came close to scoring again at the other end as Chelsea warmed to its attack. Dubravka made the save, but Lascelles was injured in the event.

Rondon missed with a bid to head a Javier Manquillo cross past Arrizabalaga.

Newcastle youngster Sean Longstaff earned a corner with a deflected shot deep in stoppage time. Ritchie’s service was played shot and wasted by Christian Atsu.

Kante pulls Chelsea closer to 2nd

Leave a comment
  • Blues move five clear of fifth place Arsenal
  • Kante scores third of season
  • Palace fails to get shot on target

N'Golo Kante‘s second half goal gave Chelsea some Top Four insurance with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday at Selhurst Park.

The win pulls Chelsea two points back of second place Spurs and five points ahead of Arsenal.

Palace remains 15th with 19 points, one ahead of Newcastle and five clear of 18th place Fulham.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

After a sleepy first half highlighted by Willian seeing a free kick tip over the bar, Chelsea needed little more than five second-half minutes to make it 1-0.

David Luiz spied Kante’s run and chipped a past over the Palace team. Kante chested it down and used his chasing mark to cut a shot across his body, off Wayne Hennessey and into the goal.

Connor Wickham used a rare appearance to nearly draw Palace level, winning an impressive physical battle and chesting a ball into shooting range but getting his angle screwed up in a poke over the goal.

Chelsea outshot Palace 12-3, and held the Eagles without a shot on target.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Chelsea ends Man City’s unbeaten season

Leave a comment
  • Man City sinks second
  • Chelsea moves third
  • City’s first PL loss in 22 games

Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season and 21-match unbeaten league run is over following a 2-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

N'Golo Kante and David Luiz scored goals to move Chelsea third on the table with 34 points.

Liverpool is the new Premier League leader, a point clear of City.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Man City again rested Sergio Aguero, and his absence along with the lack of Kevin De Bruyne playmaking was evident in the proceedings.

It was Man City counter attacking for a ninth minute opportunity that Raheem Sterling hit to Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizbalaga.

Leroy Sane was particularly dangerous for City, darting in and out of traffic to create chance and force blocks from the Chelsea back line.

But Sane couldn’t keep track of Kante for Chelsea’s opener, with the French midfielder outracing Man City’s German youngster to an Eden Hazard cutback pass in the 45th minute.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Willian drew a free kick a few yards outside the arc when Fernandinho chopped him down in the 48th minute. Ederson flew left to palm away Willian’s effort on goal.

Willian had another chance, cued up by Kante in the 52nd minute, but Ederson stooped to collect the shot.

Arrizabalaga made a flying stop on a Kyle Walker effort in the 57th as City searched for an equalizer.

But it was Chelsea who’d next score, Luiz out-leaping Fernandinho in the 78th minute.