In what turned out to be a very disappointing week for the Gunners, with defeats to both Watford and Chelsea, Arsenal will be hoping to turn it around against Hull this weekend. The Gunners should win on paper, but Hull will offer a tough test having beaten Liverpool last week, during Arsenal’s dip in form.
Arsenal’s injury situation is slowly improving, with Santi Cazorla not too far away and Mohammed Elneny also set to return to the squad. Welbeck has of course also returned to the side after a lengthy injury. One major concern that hit the club at the weekend however, was the questioned severity surrounding Hector Bellerin’s injury doubt.
Bellerin was substituted off the pitch early into the match against Chelsea on Saturday. During the Blues’ opening goal, Bellerin received an unlucky and assumed undeliberate elbow to the head from Marcos Alonso. Alonso subsequently beat Bellerin to the ball in the air and scored the first goal of the game. Bellerin hit the ground concussed and it was decided it was too risky for the player to feature in any more of the day’s action.
It was confirmed in the days after the event that an MRI confirmed that the concussion was not too serious and that it was down to the Arsenal club doctors to decide if Bellerin would be ready to feature in the Gunners against Hull. It is understood that Wenger would ideally like to select Bellerin for the match, but leading medical health professionals have suggested that Arsene Wenger shouldn’t be looking to rush the Spaniard back ahead of schedule.
A spokesperson for brain injury charity, Headway, stated: “We were pleased to see that after concussion was suspected, the protocol was followed and the player was removed from play. Quite rightly, it appears he is going through the graduated return to play protocol. While this normally takes 14 days, the FA’s rules state that if the player is in an enhanced care setting and as long as they pass all the necessary tests, they can return after six days.”
As stated the FA guidelines state that a player is able to return after six days of enhanced care. This involves regular risk assessment of the player during their graduated return, as well as a pre-assessment to determine whether they should be made available for selection. The Arsenal club doctors will then give their advice to Wenger ahead of what is a very important game for the Gunners.
A player should never be rushed back from injury, especially when they do not feel up to the task; after all it’s the player’s body and they can generally tell what’s best without the necessary advice from the club doctors. If Bellerin feels capable of performing to the expected standard and the doctors determine him fit to play, then by all means Wenger should pick Bellerin as a part of his strongest match day squad.
However, taking on board the words of the brain injury specialists, it’s interesting to note that they would recommend a 14-day period of recovery, as opposed to the FA regulation that states on six days is a must. It goes to show how sometimes players can be rushed back into training or into match day squads, way ahead of what is generally recommended by medical professionals.
If Bellerin wasn’t to play this weekend then we can once again to see Gabriel fill in at right back, despite a less than impressive string of performances as of late. However even on the back of a poor performance, I still think I’d prefer the Brazilian over Debuchy or Jenkinson right now.