The decision to send Kepa Arrizabalaga on for the penalty shootout in the Carabao Cup final has been branded “ridiculous” by Jamie Redknapp.
Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup final 11-10 on penalties after a goalless draw. The shootout went all the way to the goalkeepers. While Caoimhin Kelleher managed to score for Liverpool, Kepa Arrizabalaga could not for Chelsea.
It was somewhat ironic, given that Thomas Tuchel had dropped his usual Carabao Cup keeper in favour of outright number one Edouard Mendy to start the game. He then replaced Mendy with Kepa just before the penalty shootout.
But the world’s most expensive goalkeeper did not save any of Liverpool’s 11 attempts and then sent his own way over the bar.
It would be easy to use hindsight and call the decision to put Kepa on a mistake. But former Liverpool player Jamie Redknapp thinks the overall trend of changing goalkeepers for shootouts is misguided.
And when Mendy is one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers, he found this decision even more perplexing.
“I hope it puts to bed this substitution of putting goalkeepers on [for penalty shootouts],” Redknapp told Sky Sports.
“Edouard Mendy, one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and you put Kepa instead of him. Ridiculous.
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“I didn’t like his behaviour when penalties are being taken, and then he took one of the worst penalties you’ve ever seen.
“I’m just being honest. I don’t like it. I don’t understand why you’d do it.
“You’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He should have stayed on.”
Thomas Tuchel explains Kepa Arrizabalaga decision
Chelsea’s head coach, though, has been careful not to attach blame to the former Athletic Bilbao goalie.
Tuchel told a post-match press conference: “We feel bad for him, of course. It was a bit harsh that he was the guy to miss the one and only penalty but there is no blame.
“I take the decisions when I take 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 Edou on the pitch.
“No blame on Kepa. Blame on me as I’m the guy who takes the decisions. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn’t. This is life as a football coach.”
He added of the decision: “The players know and we did it before. It’s a nice subject now for you to make headlines. But mistakes happen.
“I do mistakes; Edou did a big mistake and almost got punished.
“It makes easier if we have a big feeling. But blame me as I take the decisions.”