The Premier League Teams Set to Potentially get Crushed by AFCON

James Budgen

Liverpool

Liverpool have a very thin squad and with Jurgen Klopp very rarely looking to rotate, this might come back to bite them in January, with two of their front three off to Cameroon. Klopp will be without the best player in the Premier League this season, Mohammed Salah, and his partner on the opposite wing, Sadio Mane. This will leave Liverpool with three first team forwards: Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi.

Salah and Mane have scored 28/52 Premier League goals for Liverpool this season, and with Manchester City already 11 points ahead, the next couple of games could make or break Liverpool’s title challenge. They will also be without midfielder Naby Keita, who this season has contributed more, leaving them with five first team midfielders for a hectic January period for Liverpool.

Expected league position by end of AFCON: 3rd

Arsenal

Arsenal have five players away on international duty, with their most notable absentee being midfielder, Thomas Partey, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wasn't playing anyway as he heads off with Gabon. The Gunners don’t have much depth in midfield, and being without their defensive presence in Thomas Partey and his backup Mohammed Elneny, holes that seemed filled under Mikel Arteta could well open back up.

Granit Xhaka and Albert Sambi-Lokonga are the midfield options now and in a busy January period that consists of Carabao Cup semi-finals after the recent FA Cup defeat, it could prove to be a difficult month for Arteta once again and things could go south.

Nicolas Pepe and is also off with Ivory Coast, and although he wasn't playing much anyway, he may have seen some game time in the League Cup games. Youth player Omar Rekik will also be heading to Cameroon to represent his country.

Expected league position by end of AFCON: 5th

Leicester City

Leicester City have endured a difficult season so far with injuries and inconsistent performances leaving them in mid-table, and they now have four players leaving for the AFCON. Leicester have had their defensive issues this campaign, and now the two that started their win over Liverpool have departed, Daniel Amartey and Wilfred Ndidi, leaving them with one fit centre-back in Jannik Vestergaard. The Dane, however, remains injury prone and is yet to get more than three games in a row under his belt this season.

The Foxes will be without their top provider in the Premier League, Kelechi Iheanacho, leaving them with only one other striker in Patson Daka as Jamie Vardy has been ruled out for a couple of months with a hamstring injury. They will also be missing backup midfielder, Nampalys Mendy.

Expected league position by end of AFCON: 11th

Crystal Palace

After the mass departure in the summer, Patrick Vieira has a very thin squad which could make life difficult for him with four key players leaving for Cameroon. Their most notable absentee is Wilfred Zaha, as he has been their go-to player in attack for years and with his five league goals this season, he's been the main man once more.

Without him and Jordan Ayew, it could give more opportunity for the younger players, like Michael Olise and Eberichi Eze, to make a claim for a starting spot when they return especially after they both impressed in second half of the game against Millwall.

Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate will also be away, leaving Vieira’s options in midfield pretty limited as Conor Gallagher, Will Hughes, Luka Milivojevic are his only options now. Jeffrey Schlupp remains, however, after losing his spot with Ghana.

Expected league position by end of AFCON: 13th

Watford

Watford’s next three games will be their most important three games of the season, facing the three teams in the relegation zone as they clash with Burnley, Newcastle United and Norwich City. Claudio Ranieri will be without four players that he has used regularly since his arrival as defenders William Troost-Ekong and Adam Masina will be away, leaving the Italian without two of his first choice back four in such a crucial period.

Imran Louza has been a regular in midfield under Ranieri, and he will now be unavailable for selection. The big miss for Watford is Ismaila Sarr, as the forward has been out with injury since November, and now he is back fit again, Senegal have snatched him away.

Watford have lost their last six Premier League games, meaning these absentees coming at the worst possible time for their fight to avoid relegation.

Expected league position by end of AFCON: somewhere in the relegation zone

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