What effect will the 2012 African Cup of Nations have on the top of the table?

Unsurprisingly teams in the Premier league rarely look forward to the African Cup of Nations. A most awkwardly positioned competition that deprives many English teams of important players the ACN will undoubtedly have an effect on our league, particularly at the top where many of the best African players ply their trade. Some teams however will fare better than others and whilst some teams will lose core layers others will lose nobody. So let’s take a look at the top teams and how it could affect them.

Arsenal

Arsenal have been more fortunate than they could have been in recent times due to the failure of Cameroon to qualify for the tournament. This means that midfield anchor Alex Song will not be departing. However others will, first team fringe player Emmanuel Frimpong may be selected for Ghana whilst the ever-improving Gervinho will definitely be missed. Despite his slow start to the season the Ivorian winger has slowly become more and more useful for the north London club and in only eight games he has already scored two goals and got numerous assists. Particularly impressive is his partnership with Van Persie and crucially for Arsenal Gervinho will miss the visit of Manchester United. Arsenal will also lose misfiring striker Marouane Chamakh but how great a loss this will be is debatable.

Chelsea

Another London club with some thinking to do come January, Chelsea will lose Drogba, Kalou and Essien if he is fit. They will also be missing these players whilst they play Man Utd. They may not have had Essien all season and Kalou has barely played but with the stuttering form of £50m striker Torres the absence of Drogba could be an uncomfortable one. With Nigeria’s failure to qualify however John Obi Mikel will remain with Chelsea.

Tottenham & Liverpool

Spurs are lucky in that Adebayor has retired from international football, although Togo did not qualify anyway, and because of Cameroon’s absence from the competition Assou-Ekotto will remain in London. Liverpool too does not lose any of their players.

Manchester United

Whilst Man Utd may only lose Mame-Birame Diouf, whom I’m sure they will not miss too much, the competition will still affect them in that many of the teams they play will be lacking key players. Notably Arsenal and Chelsea.

Manchester City

Man City will lose Ivorian brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure. The latter may not feature much but is still a big loss and Yaya is a significant blow for City. During this time they will also have to play Spurs.

Newcastle

Considering they currently sit third in the table I feel Newcastle deserve to be included, and they will suffer indeed. The loss of top goal scorer Demba Ba will be a huge blow to the club that will have to somehow attempt to continue their brilliant start to the season without, with respect to Best and Ameobi, a decent striker. Depending on how far Senegal goes in the competition they may not have Ba for the game against Spurs on the 11th of February. They will also lose Ivorian midfielder Cheik Tiote who has been extremely impressive of the last year for Newcastle.

Follow Hamish on Twitter @H_Mackay

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