Which Premier League team will struggle to pick up points during the AFCON?

Published by on January 17, 2017

Liverpool were left ruing two points dropped after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s equaliser for Manchester United.

Under normal circumstances, the Reds would be rather pleased to escape Old Trafford with a point, especially given the recent form of Jose Mourinho’s side.

Yet, other than a James Milner penalty, they failed to finish off their chances.

Sadio Mane was a notable absentee from the starting line-up, and that could be a problem for Liverpool for the duration of the African Cup of Nations.

The Senegalese attacker will be away for the cup games against Plymouth and Southampton, which realistically, Jurgen Klopp should be able to cope with regardless. His other attackers, Adam Lallana, Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho, and Roberto Firmino have 22 league goals between them, and that’s without even taking Daniel Sturridge into account. This could be a big time for Origi to shine, as 12 of his 18 appearances so far have come from the bench.

Klopp is also lucky in that their next Premier League game comes against Swansea. The fact that they’re only 11/8 to score three or more goals against the basement club says everything you need to know about Swansea’s chances at Anfield.

Paul Clement has inherited a side that has conceded at least three goals on ten occasions in just 21 league games – Manchester United put three past them, Arsenal four, and Tottenham five, so it bodes well for Liverpool even without Mane.

Chelsea are even more fortunate, though, in that not one of their players is involved at the AFCON. United are in a similar position to Liverpool, as while they’re without centre-back Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo should do just fine in his absence.

For Arsenal, they have lost Mohamed Elneny, but given how many options they have in central midfield, that’s unlikely to affect their game against Burnley on Sunday.

The one side who are going to struggle is Leicester. They travel to Southampton hoping to improve on their woeful away record, and they’ll have to do it without key men Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani, who are both with the Algerian national side. Slimani has scored six goals this season, so he’ll be an even bigger loss than under-performing Mahrez, who has managed just three assists.

Southampton are 2/1 to win that game to nil, which seems like a good price considering the Foxes are missing the two focal points of their attack. The Saints have won without the opposition scoring nine times in all competitions this season, while Leicester have failed to score in five of their defeats – though two of those have been against leaders Chelsea.