The African Cup of Nations

When Do the Tournaments Take Place

The African Cup of Nations takes place in Equatorial Guinea and kicks off on January 17 and runs through to the final on February 8.

The Asian Cup begins on January 9 and ends with the final on January 31.

Who will be involved?

The final list of qualifiers for the African Nations Cup looks like this:

Group A: Equatorial Guinea (hosts), Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Burkina Faso.
Group B: Zambia, DR Congo, Cape Verde, Tunisia.
Group C: Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Algeria.
Group D: Ivory Coast, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali.

The nations above have, to this point, named only provisional squads with the final lineups due to be announced in the first week of January after initial training camps. For now, we’ve provided a team-by-team breakdown listing those players likely to be involved, based on the provisional listings:

Arsenal: None

Aston Villa: None

Chelsea: None

Crystal Palace: Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo)

Everton: Christian Atsu (Ghana)

Hull City: Mo Diame (Senegal)

Leicester City: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)

Liverpool: Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast)

Man City: Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

Man United: None

Newcastle: Mehdi Abeid (Algeria), Papiss Cisse (Senegal), Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast)

Queens Park Rangers: None

Southampton: Sadio Mane (Senegal), Emmanuel Mayuka (Zambia)

Stoke City: Mame Biram Diouf (Senegal)

Sunderland: None

Swansea City: Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast)

Tottenham Hotspur: Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria)

West Brom: Youssouf Mulumbu (DR Congo)

West Ham: Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Diafra Sakho (Senegal)

The notable exception above is Alex Song – he has recently been omitted from Cameroon’s provisional squad and therefore looks likely to be available to West Ham during January.

How many Gameweeks will they miss?

The tournament starts on January 17, with the group stages lasting until January 28. However, squads will be gathering for training camps and friendlies well before that date.

Senegal for example have announced a training camp for their squad beginning on January 7, with a friendly schedule on January 13. The Ivory Coast begin even earlier with their squad forming for training on January 5, while DR Congo begin their camp on January 2.

This will mean that players are set to depart their Premier League teams before or after the FA Cup third round, ruling them out of Gameweek 21 on January 10-11.

All players will also miss Gameweek 22, while it’s possible that players in teams that are eliminated in the group stages could return to their clubs in time for Gameweek 23 which begins on January 31.

In a nutshell, all players are set to miss at least two, probably three Premier League matches. Those who progress past the group stages will miss further league matches.

The Quarter-Finals take place between January 31 and February 1, so players eliminated at that stage could return in time for Gameweek 24.

The Semi-Finals are on February 4 and 5. Those knocked out at that point could still travel to return to their clubs for Gameweek 24 but would seem unlikely to be involved.

The Final and third-place playoff takes place on February 7 and 8. Any player involved in those matches would be highly unlikely to return for Gameweek 25 which takes place in midweek on February 10-11.

It’s possible, then, that some players may miss five league fixtures.

Gameweek 21 (Jan 10-11) – Training Camps and Friendlies – all players missing.
Gameweek 22 (Jan 17-29) – Group Stages – all players missing.
Gameweek 23 (Jan 31- Feb 1) – Those eliminated in the group stages will return but will be fatigued through travel.
Gameweek 24 (Feb 7-8) – Eliminated Quarter-Finalists will be back. Eliminated Semi-Finalists unlikely to be available.
Gameweek 25 (Feb 10-11) – All players available except those involved in third place playoff and final.

Who’s likely to be most affected?

Much depends on a nations progress in the tournament. According to Paddy Power’s current odds, the favourites look like this:

Ivory Coast 4/1
Algeria 5/1
Ghana 13/2
Tunisia 7/1
Cameroon 10/1
Senegal 12/1

The Ivory Coast are favourites, then and, should they justify those odds, it’s clear that this would have a major impact of Manchester City and Swansea due to the absence of both Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony – potentially until Gameweek 26.

The Asian Cup

The African Cup of Nations isn’t the only international tournament taking place in January.

The Asian Cup is also being staged in Australia and, again, a number of Premier League clubs will lose players during the month as a result.

The following clubs and players are to be affected:

Aston Villa: Chris Herd (Australia)
Crystal Palace: Mile Jedinak (Australia)
Southampton: Maya Yoshida (Japan)
Swansea: Ki Sung Yueng (Korean Republic)
West Bromwich Albion: Jason Davidson (Australia)

The tournament begins on January 9 and ends with the final on January 31.

Group stages end on January 20 so players eliminated at this stage may only miss Gameweeks 21 and 22.

Those players who reach the semi-finals on January 26 and 27 are unlikely to return in time to take part in Gameweek 23.

All players will be back with their clubs and rested enough to participate in Gameweek 24 on February 7 and 8.