The English Premier League (EPL) will be entering a decisive stage at the beginning of the next year. As the competition comes close to its end, every point is crucial. It’s even possible to have expectations about the champions and runner-ups already. Or is it? The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is also set to start at the beginning of the next year. It means that many players now moving the crowds in Europe will be called back home. What does it change for EPL’s fans?
The AFCON will happen between early January and early February in Cameroon. About 40 players are expected to be called back, only in the EPL, where 15 teams will likely feel the blow. Among the hardest hit ones, Liverpool, Arsenal, Crystal Palace, and Watford, losing four players each. Those players could miss one round of major European competitions, at best. Worst-case scenarios would see players off for four rounds or more. Other continental competitions, like the South American CONMEBOL or the Central American CONCACAF, will also cause an impact. Yet, the AFCON can shake the EPL. to Check the latest developments on the best football betting sites.
The next AFCON will be played in Cameroon, although there are questions regarding its readiness for hosting the event. It has been postponed once already over safety and sanitary concerns. After a recent inspection visit, CAF’s authorities confirmed that the competition would run as scheduled.
Names and Numbers
With top teams losing top players for a couple of rounds, everything can change in the EPL. Here’s how the teams will look for the next month or so. You can also follow the matter on the best premier league betting sites.
Next month, The Reds will have to do without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Naby Keita. Joel Matip won’t join them, as he’s out of international football already. Anyway, Salah and Mane will be sorely missed. Salah has scored 20 times only this season, and Mane, nine.
The Eagles are giving up four top players for the next month, namely Wilfried Zaha, Cheikou Kouyate, Jordan Ayew, and Jeffrey Schlupp. Crystal Palace is likely in for a rough month without players of equal level to put in their place.
Four top Leicester’s players are also on the line. Nampalys Mendy will be returning to Senegal and Wilfred Ndidi to Nigeria. Top scorers like Daniel Amartey, and Kelechi Iheanacho, will probably leave, too.
Here’s another side losing almost half of its team. Ghana, Egypt, Ivory Coast, and Gabon call Nicolas Pepe, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, Gunners’ fans believe that AFCON could revitalise their talents.
The Blues are losing a tremendous goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, who’s defending Senegal next month. Meanwhile, Hakim Ziyech is being called back to Morocco. Despite losing some of its best players, Chelsea can still replace Mendy with Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The Citizens will be missing one of the world’s best players of the moment, Ryad Mahrez, who’ll be playing for Algeria. Yet, the club is so solid that such absence will barely make a difference. Manchester City has many attacking options of a comparable level. Additionally, they’ll face seriously dented teams, increasing their chances of the title.
English clubs have taken the matter to the superior stances of European football. Clubs are demanding guarantees of safety, and timely release of players, so that the competitions can have minimal overlap. In a letter to CAF, the European Club Association threatened not to release players if those conditions weren’t met. An excerpt of the letter reads that clubs shouldn’t be forced “to be without players for club competition matches”. The letter also questions the lack of medical protocols for the tournament, putting players at risk. There are fears that the country hasn’t improved its condition since the competition was last postponed. Yet, CAF’s and Cameroonian officials insist that the competition won’t be postponed again.
Despite complaints and threats, African players probably won’t face major issues to defend their countries. Meanwhile, a lot can change in the English Premier League between January and February 2022.