Africa Cup of Nations 2017 kicks-off at the weekend, and some of the Premier League’s teams will be hit hard by departures.
Several top clubs will see players miss a considerable amount of time, which may increase depending on how their sides fare.
The biggest sides hurt by Africa Cup of Nations call-ups have to be Liverpool and Leicester. Both teams are fighting for two very different things.
Liverpool will be without the services of Sadio Mane. His nine goals and four league assists have been instrumental in the team’s results this term.
Liverpool are hoping to cut the five point gap between them and leaders Chelsea; but without Mane, it may be impossible.
The Reds have a critical run of fixtures upcoming. Manchester United are up next and the Reds will host Chelsea before the end of the month.
However, Liverpool must also deal with Swansea, Southampton twice in the League Cup and Plymouth in an FA Cup replay. Perhaps the good news for Liverpool was defender Joel Matip was left out of Cameroon’s squad.
Leicester will be without African Footballer of the Year Riyad Mahrez, who will take the playmaking reins of Algeria. Striker Islam Slimani joins his Leicester and Algeria teammate Mahrez at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The striker has tallied five goals in 13 games. With Leicester just six points above the relegation zone, Slimani and Mahrez’s absences could be huge.
The North African side is expected to do well as is Mane’s Senegal.
Manchester United will also be hit by the Africa Cup of Nations, but unlike Liverpool and Leicester, the team should be less affected.
Defender Eric Bailly will feature for Ivory Coast, a team he helped lead to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2015. He has only featured 12 times in the Premier League, and the Red Devils will have enough cover for the centre-back.
Most notably, neither Chelsea nor Manchester City will miss any key players during the Africa Cup of Nations.
City are currently seven points behind the league leaders and despite playing below expectations recently, the Sky Blues could make up ground.
Manchester City play Everton and Tottenham in their next two fixtures, which is make or break in Pep Guardiola’s hunt for the Premier League title.
The Africa Cup on Nations kicks off on January 14th with the group stage matches finishing on January 25th. The tournament final will take place on Sunday February 5th.
Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
Max Gradel (Ivory Coast)
Bakary Sako (Mali), Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast),
Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)
Ahmed Elmohamady (Egypt), Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo)
Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani (Algeria)
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Sofiane Boufal (Morocco)
Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast), Mame Biram Diouf (Senegal), Ramadan Sobhi (Egypt)
Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia), Lamine Kone (Ivory Coast), Didier Ndong (Gabon)
Nordin Amrabat (Morocco), Brice Dja Djedje (Ivory Coast), Adlene Guedioura (Algeria)
Andre Ayew (Ghana), Cheikou Kouyate (Senegal)