Maurizio Sarri believes Chelsea have emerged stronger from the fallout of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to be substituted in last weekend’s EFL Cup final defeat on penalties against Manchester City. Kepa was benched by Sarri for Chelsea’s 2-0 win over bitter rivals Tottenham in the Premier League on Wednesday, one day after the club confirmed their £71.5m goalkeeper had apologised and been fined for publicly defying his head coach in extra time at Wembley. Many feared Sarri’s authority had been fatally undermined by the incident, but the Italian – who is yet to decide whether he will restore Kepa to the Chelsea team for Sunday’s trip to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham – believes the reaction of his players proves otherwise. “When there is a difficult situation, I think it’s very difficult for everybody,” Sarri said. “But it’s a big opportunity, also. You have to take that opportunity [to react]. Of course, it was really a very bad experience, but I think we can come out of this situation better than before. “When there is a very difficult experience you can come out always different than before: better or worse. I think that, from this situation, we came out better. “For the players, I think it was an experience useful for staying more united. Also for me, with my staff and players. We are more compact.” Victory over Spurs breathed fresh life into Chelsea’s faltering challenge for a top-four finish in the Premier League, but they face another tricky assignment on Sunday away against a Fulham side who could be galvanised by the sacking of Claudio Ranieri and the appointment of Scott Parker as his interim replacement this week. “I am really very happy with the last three matches because we had good performances,” Sarri added. “And also with the results. We lost a final only on penalties, but we played really a very good match. For our confidence

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