Kepa’s return to Chelsea’s starting lineup, but here see what Sarri plans to do

Back in the team. Back in Maurizio Sarri’s heart? Only the Chelsea manager can truly answer that. But given the sheer disrespect Kepa Arrizabalaga showed Sarri at Wembley last Sunday during his infamous refusal to be substituted – you suspect not. Being dropped for one game hardly seems a fitting punishment for Arrizabalaga’s incredible show of disobedience in the Carabao Cup Final.

Kepa Arrizabalaga pulled off a number of fine saves in his return to Chelsea's starting XI

Sarri, publicly, insists the furore is over. ‘Kepa made a mistake, Kepa paid with the club, the team,’ the manager said on Sky Sports ahead of the match. So I think, in my opinion, it’s time to close the question, otherwise I have to put him out of the squad for all of the season. I know the man very well, he made a mistake, so the question is closed. I hope (the message has been received), for Kepa.’

Chelsea's record signing refused to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final against Man City

Privately, the players have drawn a line under it as well – although a collective of Arrizabalaga’s team-mates told the goalkeeper that his actions were ‘unnecessary’ at the training ground last week. With Arrizabalaga back in the starting XI, last weekend’s shenanigans have been emphatically brushed under the carpet.

The Spanish goalkeeper (centre) was dropped by Maurizio Sarri for the win over Tottenham

But you have to wonder, how Sarri truly moves forward after being so spectacularly let down by one of his players. ‘The bigger picture is you’re standing in the dressing room as the manager and he had to make a stand. I would have left him out of this game and beyond,’ Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness before kick-off. You’d imagine Sarri agrees. But – as ever at Chelsea – influential factors are at play.

Arrizbalaga was nearly left red-faced after spilling Joe Bryan’s deep cross against Fulham

The last thing Chelsea’s hierarchy want is another stand-off between a manager and a player – particularly one who costs £72million. The collateral damage caused by the internal conflict between Antonio Conte and Diego Costa remains – the repercussions for both parties, as well as the club, something Chelsea have been at pains to avoid a repeat of.

The Chelsea boss may never get full closure following Arrizabalaga's brazen act of defiance

For the Chelsea hierarchy, the delicate issue has been dealt with. They want to move on. Sarri toed the party line by recalling Arrizabalaga for the west London derby against Fulham, though you’d forgive the Italian if he did so through gritted teeth. By the end of the game, the keeper played a crucial role in securing Chelsea a hard-fought win.

However, the goalkeeper played a crucial role in securing Chelsea a hard-fought win

It didn’t come without its moments; had Ryan Babel paid attention then Arrizbalaga would have been left red-faced after spilling Joe Bryan’s deep cross. By the final whistle, though, Arrizabalaga was Chelsea’s hero – making a string of excellent saves to deny Fulham what would have been a deserved equaliser.

By the final whistle, Arrizabalaga was Chelsea’s hero for pulling off a number of excellent saves

The pick of the bunch came in the final three minutes, a heart-stopping save to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic’s point blank header. His performance may help heal the scars of the Wembley fiasco. But you fear Sarri may never have full closure following such a brazen act of defiance.