Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
The Africa Cup of Nations begins on Sunday and a number of Premier League players will be heading to Cameroon to represent their respective nations in the showpiece event.
Of the 20 Premier League clubs, only Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Leeds have no players expected to depart for the tournament but some sides have been impacted more than others.
We’ve had examined how each club could be affected, and taken a look at the betting odds for the tournament itself. Read on to see how AFCON will impact the Premier League and for our thoughts on which nation may pick up the coveted trophy.
Who are the AFCON favourites?
Senegal enter the competition as tournament favourites at 5/1 and it is easy to see why. The Lions of Teranga have a strong spine with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly in defence, Isrissa Gueye of Paris Saint-Germain in midfielder and Liverpool star Sadio Mane in attack and it would be no surprise to see them win the tournament for the first time after finishing as runners-up in 2019.
Defending champions Algeria are next in the betting at 6/1, with Mohamed Salah’s Egypt rated at 13/2 and the Ivory Coast at 7/1.
If Nigeria had been able to call on Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis and Napoli hotshot Victor Osimhen they would be a shorter price and at 8/1 they offer good value. The Super Eagles may be without two in-form forwards but Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester is more than capable of leading the line and they have quality throughout the squad.
As an outside option, Ghana are worth a mention at 12/1 as the Black Stars have plenty of talented players to call on – with Leicester’s Daniel Amartey, Arsenal’s Thomas Partey and Andre and Jordan Ayew expected to be in their squad. Host nation Cameroon could also be contenders at 8/1.
How will AFCON affect Premier League clubs?
Arsenal are battling for a top four place and are involved in both domestic cup competitions. The Gunners have a number of players heading to Cameroon and earlier in the campaign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s involvement would have been seen as a huge blow. However, the striker has fallen out of favour and hasn’t featured in the last five games after being stripped of the captaincy, so instead it is the departure of Thomas Partey to link up with Ghana that looks their biggest loss.
Players expected to be selected: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Thomas Partey (Ghana), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Omar Rekik (Tunisia)
Premier League games impacted: Tottenham (A), Burnley (H), Wolves (A)
Villa have two players selected but Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet have hardly featured this season anyway due to injuries. The big concern for Villa, will be worries over whether or not either player suffered a setback or a new injury while on AFCON duty.
Players expected to be selected: Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Trezeguet (Egypt)
Premier League games impacted: Man Utd (H), Everton (A), Leeds (H)
Brentford have a small squad and the loss of Frank Onyeka will be felt, Tariqe Fosu has been frozen out after failing to secure a move in the summer and his call-up by Ghana may work in the Bees’ favour in terms of moving him on.
Players expected to be selected: Frank Onyeka (Nigeria), Tariqe Fosu (Ghana)
Premier League games impacted: Liverpool (A), Wolves (H), Man City (A)
Brighton’s Yves Bissouma has been called up by Mali and his departure is a blow for Albion as they have a tough run of games coming up.
Players expected to be selected: Yves Bissouma (Mali)
Premier League games impacted: Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (A), Chelsea (H)
Burnley have scored just 16 Premier League goals this season and Maxwell Cornet has managed six of those – despite playing in just 10 games.
Players expected to be selected: Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
Premier League games impacted: Leicester (H), Arsenal (A), Man Utd (H)
Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech won’t be in the Morocco squad but they are losing first choice keeper Edouard Mendy, meaning Kepa Arrizabalaga will deputise.
Players expected to be selected: Edouard Mendy (Senegal)
Premier League games impacted: Man City (A), Tottenham (H), Brighton (A)
Palace are a side who could particularly struggle during AFCON as star man Wilfried Zaha will link up with the Ivory Coast.
Players expected to be selected: Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast), Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
Premier League games impacted: Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Norwich (A)
Alex Iwobi is the only player set to depart for AFCON. The Nigerian has managed 13 Premier League appearances this season but they should be able to cope in his absence.
Players expected to be selected: Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
Premier League games impacted: Norwich (A), Aston Villa (H), Newcastle (A)
Leicester have a tricky run of games coming up and they’re losing a few key men to AFCON, including striker Kelechi Iheanacho and midfield enforcer Wilfred Ndidi.
Players expected to be selected: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
Premier League games impacted: Burnley (A), Brighton (H), Liverpool (A)
Liverpool have been hit hard with two key forwards jetting off to Cameroon in the shape of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The Reds also come up against a Leicester side who have already beaten them once this season during AFCON and they face Arsenal in the EFL Cup semi-finals too.
Players expected to be selected: Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Naby Keita (Guinea)
Premier League games impacted: Brentford (H), Crystal Palace (A), Leicester (H)
Runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City are losing a star player in Riyad Mahrez, but as they have such a strong squad his departure to link up with Algeria is unlikely to have a big impact.
Players expected to be selected: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Premier League games impacted: Chelsea (H), Southampton (A), Brentford (H)
Eric Bailly has managed just four Premier League appearances for Manchester United so they are unlikely to be affected by his absence unless they are hit by a few injuries in defence.
Players expected to be selected: Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast), Hannibal Mejbri (Tunisia)
Premier League games impacted: Aston Villa (A), West Ham (H), Burnley (A)
Mali international Moussa Djenepo has managed just 21 minutes of football in Southampton’s last eight Premier League games.
Players expected to be selected: Moussa Djenepo (Mali)
Premier League games impacted: Wolves (A), Man City (H), Tottenham (A)
Watford pair Emmanuel Dennis and Ismaila Sarr won’t be linking up with Nigeria and Senegal respectively, but the Hornets still have a few players heading to Cameroon.
Players expected to be selected: William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Imran Louza (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco)
Premier League games impacted: Newcastle (A), Norwich (H), West Ham (A)
Said Benrahma has hit some form for West Ham with two goals and an assist in his last three games but the Hammers will have to cope without the Algerian for the next month or so.
Players expected to be selected: Said Benrahma (Algeria)
Premier League games impacted: Leeds (H), Man Utd (A), Watford (H)
Willy Boly has missed the last six games for Wolves due to injury but when fit he is a regular starter. The loss of fellow defender Romain Saiss also comes as a blow.
Players expected to be selected: Romain Saiss (Morocco), Willy Boly (Ivory Coast)
Premier League games impacted: Southampton (H), Brentford (A), Arsenal (H)
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