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Arsenal’s Arteta defends concussion protocols, expects Luiz fit for Tottenham derby

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta expects David Luiz to be fit for Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham and defended the club’s protocols in dealing with the centre-back’s head injury against Wolves.

Luiz was injured in a clash with Raul Jimenez, who later went to hospital and underwent surgery on a fractured skull, during the first half of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium.

The 33-year-old was patched up and allowed to continue only for blood to seep through a bandage wrapped around his forehead before being substituted at half-time.

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Arsenal insisted all guidelines regarding concussion incidents were followed and hailed the influence of club doctor Gary O’Driscoll, who has previously been chair of the Premier League Doctors’ Group and been a key adviser in making injury protocol recommendations.

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“Some people can have the perception whether he should have continued or not,” Arteta said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“Thankfully we have one of the leading authorities in this country [on concussion], which is Gary O’Driscoll — who is our doctor and has massive experience, not only in football but rugby as well.

“And he knows exactly what to do. He did all the testing, he followed all the protocols and we were very comfortable for him [Luiz] to carry on playing.

“But obviously you have to make a decision in one minute, when somebody is bleeding, when you have someone with a massive concussion next to you — whose life is under threat.

“Maybe it is a moment that we can think to give these people a little bit more time and use a temporary substitution, for example, if we don’t want to find ourselves in those positions.

“But what I can tell you is everything [on Sunday] was done in the right manner. The only aim here is to protect the welfare of the player and that’s all.”

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Concussion substitutes are expected to be trialled in the Premier League as early as the new year with the Football Association set to introduce the same measures in the FA Cup once they are approved by the International Football Association Board, whose next meeting takes place on Dec. 16.

“If you have any doubt, at any moment and you need an extra two minutes or five minutes to check someone, maybe we can think about that,” Arteta added.

“After five minutes you need make a decision to find a sub, the player is really pushing you, he is talking about everything, David was constantly asking about Raul, he went to see Raul, he was totally conscious about the situation, the player wants to carry on playing and the doctor has to tick all the necessary boxes to be certain that the player is okay to continue.”

Luiz will play against Spurs if the scar is healing properly and he is comfortable heading the ball while midfielder Thomas Partey could also make a surprise return to the squad despite struggling with a thigh injury.

Arteta said on Sunday that Partey could “miss a few games” but that prognosis has since improved, although the 27-year-old faces another scan and is training alone away from the first-team group.

Arsenal are under mounting pressure to secure a positive result with Tottenham top of the table while they languish eight points adrift in 14th place.

The team have scored just 10 goals in 10 games and went more than seven hours without scoring from open play, leading to questions over Arteta’s conservative approach.

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“For me, the dream that I have with the love that I have for this football club, is to achieve the level that this club deserves and build a project, but believe me, it takes time and not a month or three months,” Arteta said in response to the criticism.

“This is time and time and time, and a lot of good decisions and a lot of support. This is where we are and I’m ready to fight. I’m ready to fight all the way through because I believe that we can do it.

“We are going through difficult periods, we will see who responds, who doesn’t and how we react as a club through different periods, and how we stick together when things aren’t going well. When things are going well, it’s easy.

“Everybody wants to be there on the front pages, on the TV celebrating, being part of something, but unfortunately, at the moment we aren’t that good and the lines are really thin. We need to be really humble and understand that these are thin lines, but if we do it, we can compete against any team and we’ve shown that.”

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