How Will Africa Cup of Nations Affect Premier League?
The Africa Cup of Nations commences next week but most countries’ players have already left their clubs to prepare for the biennial tournament.
The tournament was originally scheduled to take place in Morocco, but will now be hosted by Equatorial Guinea due to the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.
African football’s growing importance in the Premier League was illustrated last Sunday when seven of the day’s 17 goals were scored by players from the continent.
Top flight managers and those of a Fantasy Football persuasion, despite signing internationals from African nations, will no doubt bemoan the departure of key players – and some clubs will feel their absence more keenly than others.
The Chase for Top 4
Chelsea have often borne the brunt of the Cup of Nations in the past, with the likes of Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel regularly called for upon for mid-season international duty. They’ve no such worries this time, however, with Drogba now retired and Mikel’s Nigeria failing to qualify.
However, Manchester City will be without Yaya Toure who is part of a much-fancied Ivory Coast squad along with brother Kolo from Liverpool. Meanwhile, Manchester United and Arsenal will also remain unaffected. Southampton will miss the in-form Sadio Mane from Senegal but have signed Eljero Elia on loan from Werder Bremen to cover his absence.
Sam Allardyce’s West Ham will also miss the goals of fellow Sengalese Diafro Sakho along with his international team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate . However, Big Sam will breathe a sigh of relief that recent captain Alex Song has been omitted from Cameroon’s roster.
A resurgent Tottenham will be without Algeria’s Nabil Bentaleb who’s started ten league games this term for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Leicester City could be the most affected of the relegation battlers, with the creative Riyad Mahrez on duty with Algeria and Jeff Schlupp, who scored a cracking equaliser against Liverpool on New Year’s Day, a member of Ghana’s squad.
New Crystal Palace boss Alan Pardew will have to cope without arguably their two best players during the start of his tenure- the impressive Yannick Bolasie will represent DR Congo in Equatorial Guinea, while Mile Jedinak’s departure to the Asian Cup with Australia will also be keenly felt at Selhurst Park.
Hull City will be without summer signing Mohamed Diame, while West Brom’s Youssouff Mulumbu has been called up to DR Congo’s squad.
Wilfried Bony’s played his last Swansea City game, at least for a while, as he’s another off to AFCON with the Ivory Coast, as is Newcastle United’s Cheick Tiote. His clubmates Papiss Cisse of Senegal and Algeria’s Mehdi Abeid will also be missing for the best part of January. Finally, Stoke City’s Mame Biram Diouf is also on duty with Senegal.