How we Expect the AFCON to Affect the Premier League

Liverpool Salah Keita Mane

Liam Bewsher

How we expect the AFCON to Affect the Premier League

With AFCON 2021 set to start on 9th January in Cameroon, some Premier League clubs will be without some key players for around a month, as the final of this year’s competition takes place on 6th February.

Here we take a look at the impact that AFCON 2021 could have on the Premier League season, with some players missing out on at least five games of football across all competitions for their club sides.

Liverpool & Top 4

Liverpool are perhaps the most affected side in terms of performance when AFCON 2021 takes place, as Jurgen Klopp’s side will be without attacking duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, who have gone to represent Egypt and Senegal, as well as Naby Keita of Guinea.

Salah and Mane are arguably the best two players at the competition and their absences could be felt at Anfield in the coming month, as they’ll have to cope with a tricky test against Arsenal in the EFL Cup Semi-Finals, as well as having to navigate their way against Brentford at home, Crystal Palace away and potentially Leicester City at home without a duo that have a combined 33 goals and 10 assists so far this season.

Of late, Liverpool have been struggling for form, hence why they have fallen 11 points behind Manchester City in the title race, now seeing them ahead of fifth in the table West Ham by eight points, whilst sixth in the standings Spurs are nine points behind the Anfield club, with two games in hand, leaving very little room for error.

Burnley & relegation

Burnley are having a troublesome campaign so far this season, as no side has won fewer matches than the Clarets in the Premier League, with Sean Dyche’s men earning just one in 17.

Ivory Coast international Maxwel Cornet has been nothing short of a sensation since moving from Olympique Lyon to Burnley in the summer, as the 25-year-old has scored six goals and created one assist in 12 matches for the Turf Moor club, averaging a goal every 120 minutes, which is vital considering the Clarets have managed just 16 league goals this season.

When taking into account of the importance Cornet has to his side, to miss their FA Cup tie against Huddersfield Town, as well as matches against Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester United, this may not affect Burnley’s survival hopes too much, but it could certainly hamper their chances of taking any points in their upcoming matches.

Premier League Tips

skybet betting tip

BURNLEY TO BE RELEGATED @ 8/13

Watford Battling Against the Drop


Watford are another side that are battling against relegation, like Burnley. However, there has been some controversies over the Hornets being rumoured not to be allowing some players to go to the tournament.

Ismaila Sarr was recently released for AFCON 2021 following a complaint by Senegal to FIFA, whilst the likes of Imran Louza and Adam Masina have been allowed to play for Morrocco, as well as William Troost-Ekong is set to captain Nigeria.

There have been mixed reports as to why Emmanuel Dennis was omitted from Nigeria’s squad, with some believing the Hornets weren’t willing to allow him to leave for the tournament, whilst there are rumours that Dennis wasn’t willing to feature for the Super Eagles without assurances over his playtime with his club side in such a precarious position in the Premier League standings.

Claudio Ranieri’s side will have to cope without these key players for crucial relegation battle matches against Newcastle United and Norwich City, two of the three teams below them in the league table, as well as potentially against West Ham United on 8th February, depending on several factors such as travel and rest periods.

Premier League Tips

skybet betting tip

WATFORD TO BE RELEGATED @ 1/2

Leicester City & Crystal Palace Quartets off to AFCON

So far this season, Leicester’s form has been very inconsistent, partially due to having to contend with the Europa League, as well as the unavailability of key players.

AFCON 2021 will likely further hamper Brendan Rodgers’ sides preparations for matches against Everton, Burnley, Brighton and potentially Liverpool, as both Wilfried Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho have both been selected by Nigeria, whilst Daniel Amartey and Nampalys Mendy are set to represent Ghana and Senegal.

Amartey has proven himself to be a valuable squad player for the Foxes since joining from FC Copenhagen in 2016, often filling in for absent defenders, as he did alongside Ndidi in their 1-0 victory over Liverpool, whilst Iheanacho offers a good alternative to the likes of Patson Daka and Jamie Vardy up-front and will be hoping to use the upcoming tournament in Cameroon to re-find his goalscoring form.

Leicester are currently just six points off the European football places and will be hoping that they can see out some vital fixtures without some key players.

On the other hand, Crystal Palace are just one place behind the Foxes, trailing them by two points having played two more matches in the Premier League, but, are enduring a good season under Patrick Vieira.

The Eagles will be missing the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Ayew, Jeffrey Schlupp and Cheick Kouyate who will be representing the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal at AFCON, meaning that Vieira sees his attacking options depleted, as well as losing some key squad players. Palace will have to go without these players against Brighton, Liverpool and potentially Norwich.

Premier League Tips

skybet betting tip

LEICESTER CITY TO FINISH BOTTOM HALF OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE @ 5/2

Other Key Premier League Players off to AFCON

There are a series of other key players who will miss their upcoming Premier League fixtures due to their involvement in AFCON.

Arsenal will be without the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Eleney and Nicolas Pepe will all be away representing their countries, consequently missing matches against Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Kepa Arrizabalaga is set to deputise for Edouard Mendy at Chelsea, with the latter set to start in goal for Senegal, whilst Yves Bissouma of Brighton, as well as Romain Saiss of Wolves, will be playing for Mali and Morrocco at this year’s tournament. Riyad Mahrez and Said Benrahma will also be aiming to help Algeria defend their crown as champions of Africa at AFCON, having been useful squad players for Manchester City and West ham United this season.

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