EPL

Gundogan would back 'sporting' decision to hand Liverpool Premier League title

By Sports Desk March 29, 2020

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan admitted he is "okay" with handing Liverpool the Premier League title following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reds are 25 points clear at the top of the table but uncertainty over when the 2019-20 season will resume is leading some to suggest it may not be finished at all.

City clinched back-to-back titles in the previous two seasons, but Gundogan - who won the Bundesliga under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during their time together at Borussia Dortmund - would have no issue in conceding the crown to their rivals this season.

He told German broadcaster ZDF: "It would be okay for me. You have to be sporting."

Asked whether playing out the rest of the season behind closed doors might appeal as an option, Gundogan replied: "Honestly, I can't imagine that - and I don't know how realistic it is."

With the Football Association opting to cancel the season for all clubs below the three National League divisions in non-league football, many of the smaller clubs in England are facing difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gundogan would be in favour of top players sacrificing their salaries to help those struggling lower down the football pyramid during the crisis, saying: "Of course I would find that okay, of course. The lower league clubs do not have it so easy."

The 29-year-old, who joined City in June 2016, revealed he is finding life difficult during the lockdown.

"You are sometimes afraid to go for a walk for 10 to 15 minutes outside, even though it was oddly and ironically extremely beautiful weather here in Manchester," said Gundogan.

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    Watford captain Troy Deeney defended Arsenal from criticism after allowing David Luiz to play on with a head injury against Wolves, while brain injury association Headway has outlined why the club's actions were worrying.

    Brazilian defender David Luiz was involved in a sickening collision of heads with Raul Jimenez in the fifth minute of Arsenal's 2-1 defeat on Sunday.

    Jimenez, 29, required oxygen prior to being carried off the pitch on a stretcher after medical professionals tended to him for 10 minutes.

    Further highlighting the force of the clash, it was confirmed by Wolves on Monday that the Mexico international suffered a fractured skull, but the club stressed the player is "comfortable" after undergoing surgery.

    Protocols in the Premier League state that anyone suspected to be suffering from concussion must be immediately taken off, yet it was not until half-time that – in Mikel Arteta's words – the "really uncomfortable" David Luiz was withdrawn, though the Spaniard insisted guidelines were followed.

    In the wake of the incident, Deeney attracted widespread criticism when suggesting players should be trusted to know whether they are capable of playing on or not.

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    "As a player you know when something's not right. Watching David Luiz for 20 minutes afterwards, he never looked shaky on his feet, his legs weren't going from underneath him.

    "They followed all the protocols in terms of he's ticked every box, then afterwards you don't see anything other than blood to suggest he's in a bad way."

    Headway picked up on Arteta's assertion David Luiz did not lose consciousness, adding that is only ever prominent in 10 per cent of concussion cases.

    The charity is also once again demanding the implementation of a 'concussion substitute' rule akin to that used in cricket and rugby due to the known risks and potential long-term health implications associated with such an injury.

    Headway deputy chief executive officer Luke Griggs said: "Only last week we strongly criticised the International Football Association Board (IFAB) for its continued procrastination in introducing concussion substitutes into the sport.

    "We have repeatedly warned about the risks to players and the importance of elite-level sport setting a good example for impressionable younger players to follow.

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    "That is the very reason why we urgently need temporary concussion substitutes in football. You simply cannot take a risk with head injuries. They are not like muscular injuries where you can put a player back on 'to see if they can run it off'. One further blow to the head when concussed could have serious consequences.

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    "The concussion protocol clearly states that '…anyone with a suspected concussion must be immediately removed from play', while the sport continues to promote an 'if in doubt, sit it out' approach to head injuries.

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    "The club would like to thank the medical staff at Arsenal, the NHS paramedics, hospital staff and surgeons who, through their skill and early response, were of such help.

    "The club ask that Raul and his family are now afforded a period of space and privacy, before any further updates are provided in due course."

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