AFCON, Asian Cup, Football, Premier League

Premier League title race could be affected by AFCON and Asian Cup

Premier League teams are known to have some of the most diverse squads in world football, but sometimes it may come at a high cost.

Even though it is a repeated occurrence, happening every 4 years, it still leaves a big impact on teams, but none could be as big as this year.

Liverpool currently sit top of the Premier League with 45 points after 20 games played and they have two key players in Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo leaving for AFCON and the Asian Cup respectively. Now at this time Salah sits level with Man City’s Erling Haaland in the Golden Boot race with 14 goals and at the top of the assists charts with 8 assists. Losing him for about a month would mean that they are losing arguably their most crucial player with him already contributing 32% of Liverpool’s goals this season. Wataru Endo who has been a revelation since signing from Stuttgart in the summer for 18 million pounds, will also deeply be missed after making the No.6 role in Liverpool’s vitalised midfield his own.

Liverpool are not the only team affected in the Premier League. Both Arsenal and Manchester United are losing 2 players as well, with United looking worse as both Sofyan Amrabat and keeper Andre Onana both head off to AFCON. This could mean that Manchester United could be without their main goalkeeper until the 12th of February if Cameroon were to make it to the final of the competition. Chelsea are losing their new striker Nicolas Jackson, West Ham are without two key players in Mohamed Kudus and Nayef Aguerd while Tottenham are another side heavily affected with 3 players leaving including their captain and star player, Son Heung-Min.

All of this is happening while the top 5; Liverpool, Aston Villa, Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham are just separated by 6 points. And this is benefiting one team…Man City.

Man City are losing no players having no one in the squad represent a nation taking part in either of the competitions. Most of the City squad are either from Europe or South America. The last player to represent a nation in taking part in these competitions and play for City was Algerian, Riyad Mahrez, who left City for Saudi Pro-League outfit Al-Ahli in the summer.

This can be seen differently by many people as either blatant or coincidental from manager Pep Guardiola, but the benefits of having a full squad cannot be underestimated, especially since the heartbeat of last year’s treble winning team is still around. Pep will have at his disposal a world class side with no absentees, Erling Haaland who is back from injury on January 13th and Kevin De Bruyne, who returned in their 5-0 FA Cup win over Huddersfield.

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, said to the press: “De Bruyne is warming up and the whole country is shaking”, stating the importance and threat of this one player. His return comes welcome to City fans but anger and anguish to rival supporters as the season reaches a crucial period, with every point won rejoiced and every point loss resulting in sorrow.

Other posts by