Thomas Tuchel has insisted that he is to blame for Chelsea’s defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final after making the decision to replace Edouard Mendy with Kepa Arrizabalaga ahead of the decisive shoot-out. The Spanish goalkeeper was unable to inspire the Blues to victory under the lights at Wembley after a closely-fought encounter in which neither side managed to break the deadlock before penalties were required to determine the outcome.
A number of goals were disallowed for various offsides over the course of Sunday’s final, which saw both Chelsea and Liverpool go agonizingly close to finding an elusive winner.
Tuchel opted to make an important change during the closing stages of extra time as he called Kepa into action to replace Mendy between the sticks for the shoot-out that followed.
However, the move did not have the desired effect, with Liverpool scoring each of their 11 spot kicks to get their hands on the Carabao Cup for the first time since 2012.
Kepa failed to save a single penalty for Chelsea before firing his own effort into the stands to hand the trophy to their Merseyside rivals.
Tuchel moved quickly to defend the 27-year-old after the final whistle, though, by taking responsibility for the decisive call to withdraw Mendy from the action.
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“I take the decisions when I take the decisions and I can’t re-judge them when I know the outcome,” explained the Chelsea boss in his post-match press conference.
“We don’t know what would’ve happened if we left Edou on the pitch. No blame on Kepa, the blame is 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.
“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 it easier if we have a big feeling, but blame me as I take the decisions.”
Tuchel went on to express his sympathy for Kepa after his decisive penalty miss before insisting that he was proud of the collective performance of his players in spite of the result.
“We feel bad for him, of course,” he added. “It was a bit harsh that he was the guy to miss the one and only penalty but there is no blame.
“We have to also accept the quality of the moment, they [Liverpool] are maybe the best attacking side in Europe at the moment.
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“So defending like this and playing like this made me very proud today. I had the feeling we created a bit more, were a bit more there, but maybe that is subjective.
“The game could’ve gone either way, we needed some momentum to win it.”
Sunday’s result saw Chelsea miss out on their third major trophy since the beginning of the campaign after their Super Cup and World Club Cup triumphs earlier in the season.
The Blues will be looking to bounce back with a win in their next outing against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday evening.
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