Fifteen Premier League clubs are set to be impacted by the Africa Cup of Nations in January and February. Who are they? And which players could be absent?
The Africa Cup of Nations will run from January 9 to February 6, with 40 Premier League players potentially being called up for duty for the tournament in Cameroon.
Those called up to AFCON could miss at least one Premier League round (weekend of January 15/16), the FA Cup third round (weekend of January 8) and the Carabao Cup semi-finals (w/c January 3 and January 10) in the best-case scenario.
However, depending on when clubs release their players, and how fit they are on return, in the worst case, players could miss four Premier League rounds, both Carabao Cup semi-finals and both the FA Cup third and fourth rounds.
That could prove a problem for teams like Liverpool, who will likely see Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita selected for the tournament, as well as Watford (six players likely to feature), Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Leicester (all four players).
Due to Covid-19 impacting the World Cup Qualifying schedules, there will also be a double round of fixtures in the South American (CONMEBOL), North and Central American (CONCACAF), Asian (AFC) and Oceanic (OFC) confederations in late January and early February, though these games will fall during the Premier League’s winter break.
However, there could be complications for the FA Cup fourth round on the weekend of February 5, with some CONCACAF Qualifiers not finishing until the early hours of February 3.
Here, we run through the clubs impacted by AFCON, the players potentially involved, and the games they could miss.
It is unclear exactly when Premier League teams will need to release their players for AFCON, with the final Premier League games before the tournament taking place across January 1, 2 and 3.
The Carabao Cup semi-final first leg is scheduled for the midweek of January 3, the FA Cup third round is scheduled for the weekend of January 8, with AFCON kicking off on January 9 and the group stages finishing on January 20. In that period, the Carabao Cup semi-final second legs are scheduled for the midweek of January 10, and there will be a Premier League round across January 14, 15 and 16.
There is also a Premier league round scheduled across January 21, 22 and 23, but players may be able to return in time to feature for their club; Liverpool, for example, have three players likely to feature at AFCON, but play on January 23 at Crystal Palace, three days after the group stage finishes.
The AFCON round of 16 takes place from January 23 to January 26, meaning players whose nations qualify for the knockout stages will be unavailable for the Premier League.
The AFCON quarter-finals (January 29 and 30), semi-finals (February 2 and 3) and final/third-place play-off (February 6) could impact the FA Cup fourth-round ties, scheduled for the weekend of February 5, before the Premier League returns on the midweek of February 8 and 9 after the winter break.
January 1, 2 and 3 – Premier League round 21
Midweek of January 3 – Carabao Cup semi-final first leg
Weekend of January 8 – FA Cup third round
January 9 – AFCON group stage starts
Midweek of January 10 – Carabao Cup semi-final second leg
January 14, 15, 16 – Premier League round 22
January 20 – AFCON group stage ends
January 21, 22 and 23 – Premier League round 23
January 23 to 26 – AFCON last 16
January 29 and 30 – AFCON quarter-finals
February 2 and 3 – AFCON semi-finals
Weekend of February 5 – FA Cup fourth round
February 6 – AFCON final and third-place play-off
February 8 and 9 – Premier League round 24
Which clubs are impacted?
Players potentially selected: Thomas Partey (Ghana), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)
PL games impacted: Jan 1: Man City (H); Jan 16: Tottenham (A); Jan 22: Burnley (H); Feb 8: Wolves (A)
Players potentially selected: Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso), Trezeguet (Egypt), Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Brentford (A); Jan 15: Man Utd (H); Jan 22: Everton (A); Feb 8: Leeds (H)
Players potentially selected: Frank Onyeka (Nigeria), Julian Jeanvier (Guinea), Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Aston Villa (H); Jan 15: Liverpool (A); Jan 22: Wolves (H); Feb 9: Man City (A)
Players potentially selected: Yves Bissouma (Mali)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Everton (A); Jan 14: Crystal Palace (H); Jan 22: Leicester (A); Feb 8: Chelsea (H)
Players potentially selected: Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Leeds (A); Jan 15: Leicester (H); Jan 22: Arsenal (A); Feb 8: Man Utd (H)
Players potentially selected: Edouard Mendy (Senegal), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Liverpool (H); Jan 15: Man City (A); Jan 23: Tottenham (H); Feb 8: Brighton (A)
Players potentially selected: Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal), Jordan Ayew (Ghana), Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana), Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
PL games impacted: Jan 1: West Ham (H); Jan 14: Brighton (A); Jan 23: Liverpool (H); Feb 8: Norwich (A)
Players potentially selected: Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Brighton (H); Jan 15: Norwich (A); Jan 22: Aston Villa (H); Feb 9: Newcastle (A)
Players potentially selected: Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria), Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana), Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)
PL games impacted: Jan 1: Norwich (H); Jan 15: Burnley (A); Jan 22: Brighton (H); Jan 9: Liverpool (A)
Players potentially selected: Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Naby Keita (Guinea)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Chelsea (A); Jan 15: Brentford (H); Jan 23: Crystal Palace (A); Feb 9: Leicester (H)
Players potentially selected: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
PL games impacted: Jan 1: Arsenal (A); Jan 15: Chelsea (H); Jan 22: Southampton (A); Feb 9: Brentford (H)
Players potentially selected: Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast), Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)
PL games impacted: Jan 3: Wolves (H); Jan 15: Aston Villa (A); Jan 22: West Ham (H); Feb 8: Burnley (A)
Players potentially selected: Moussa Djenepo (Mali), Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)
PL games impacted: Jan 2: Newcastle (H); Jan 15: Wolves (A); Jan 22: Man City (H); Feb 9: Tottenham (A)
Players potentially selected: Peter Etebo (Nigeria), Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria), William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria), Imran Louza (Morocco), Adam Masina (Morocco), Ismaila Sarr (Senegal)
PL games impacted: Jan 1: Tottenham (H); Jan 15: Newcastle (A); Jan 21: Norwich (H); Feb 8: West Ham (A)
Players potentially selected: Said Benrahma (Algeria)
PL games impacted: Jan 1: Crystal Palace (A); Jan 16: Leeds (H); Jan 22: Man Utd (A); Feb 8: Watford (H)
Players potentially selected: Willy Boly (Ivory Coast), Romain Saiss (Morocco)
PL games impacted: Jan 3: Man Utd (A); Jan 15: Southampton (H); Jan 22: Brentford (A); Feb 8: Arsenal (H)