Sarri on his future, Azpilicueta, dropping Alonso – and whether Chelsea players respect him

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri spoke about a number of issues at a media conference ahead of game against Tottenham. Here’s some of what the Italian had to say.

On Kepa and the keeper’s refusal to come off at Wembley

“I spoke with Kepa of course. Then we spoke all together. He said sorry to the technical staff but it was not enough. Then he said sorry to the team-mates and to the club.

“He made a big mistake. But we need to be tolerant. We don’t want to kill him.”

On whether Kepa will play against Spurs

“I don’t know. I have to decide. Maybe yes, maybe not. It will be a decision for the group. I will decide for my group.

“I want to send a message to my group. The message could be that Kepa is on the pitch or Kepa is out of the pitch. I have to decide what is better.

“He made a mistake – a big mistake. There are some consequences. If the consequence is to play, he has to be ready to play. If the consequence is the bench, he has to be ready to go to the bench.”

On whether he wanted Kepa off because of Willy Caballero’s excellent penalty record

“No (it was) because I didn’t want a goalkeeper with cramp for the penalties and then Caballero knows very well the other players who play for City, so I thought it would be better with a goalkeeper in a very good physical condition.

“But then I understood that he (Kepa) was able to go to the penalties.”

On Chelsea players not intervening

“It was really a very unusual situation so I think the players were really very shocked. It was impossible to react immediately, I think.”

On whether Cesar Azpilicueta, as captain, should have intervened

Chelsea: Cesar Azpilicueta

“The captain spoke with me immediately after the match, then he spoke with Kepa. The situation was really very clear in the dressing room after.”

On whether he feels undermined

“No, because for me the situation is finished. He is a young player and he made a mistake. I am sure he understood he made a really very big mistake. For me it is finished.”

“It was only a big misunderstanding. I have to value the performance and they played with a very great level of application, determination and aggression. This is really very important.”

On why he initially stormed towards the tunnel

“I needed one minute to return calm because I was really very disappointed.”

On reports he is under pressure

“I’m not under pressure but you have to ask the club. I cannot understand why you ask me this kind of question. I am not able to answer.

“If you want to know my opinion, I am not under pressure. Every three or four months in my job you are under pressure and I am doing this job for 35 years, so the pressure is a normal pressure.”

On what has gone wrong since Chelsea beat Spurs

“Because at the beginning we had more enthusiasm, I think, so we were able to remedy some mistakes.

“Then we played without enthusiasm for a period. Probably we were only tired mentally.

“I think in the defensive movement we are better now. I think now we are improving, especially in the defensive phase in the last two matches.

“So I think if we are able to have a great solidity in the defensive phase we will be able to find consistency.”

On Marcos Alonso being left out of the squad at Wembley

“It depends on the position. I didn’t want a left-back on the bench. But it’s the same situation with Emerson (not being on the bench) usually.”

On whether he still rates Alonso

“Of course, but it depends on the period. In this period, Emerson is doing very well, so I have to use him.

“It depends on the period and the mental and physical condition. It can happen that, in 11 months, you have one or two months not at the top. It’s not a big problem. Fortunately,

“Emerson now is in a very good physical mental and physical condition.”

On whether the players still respect him

“Did you see the match on Sunday? So you have the answer. After the game is the same – or I think better.”

On whether the players actually respect him more now