Arsenal hit by AFCON issues
Arsenal are set to be one of the heaviest hit sides when players depart for the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). They are set to lose 4 players, in the form of Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe.
Indeed, they are perhaps behind only Liverpool (who are set to wave goodbye to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane) in the worst affected, with Partey and Aubameyang shoo-ins to Mikel Arteta’s best starting XI, and Pepe a strong contender too.
But just how much football will they miss?
Which games will they miss?
As per The Athletic, the players involved are due to leave their respective clubs on Boxing day due to quarantine commitments ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins in January 2022.
Should they reach the latter stages, which all four nations have a fair chance of doing, they may not be back until the second week of February.
As a result, they would miss clashes with Manchester City and Tottenham, as well as a tie against Burnley and a doubleheader with Wolves. They would also miss the third round of the FA Cup, and should Arsenal make it through, the fourth round too.
The games Partey, Auba, Pepe and Elneny could miss for Arsenal:
Man City (A)
FA Cup 3rd Round
FA Cup 4th Round (should we get through)
Touch and go for Chelsea (A) in the second week of February.
— Ben Browning (@BenBrowning3) October 21, 2021
They would, in addition, be touch and go for Mikel Arteta’s trip to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, which is set to take place in the second week of February. Their selection status would depend on fatigue and any potential new quarantine rules that get introduced over the winter period.
This means that for between six and eight games, Arsenal’s options in central midfield as things stand consist of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, a recovering Granit Xhaka and new boy Sambi Lokonga, none of whom inspire confidence that they can perform consistently at the highest level.
Will the Gunners need to dip back into the transfer market?
Mikel Arteta provides Bukayo Saka injury update ahead of Aston Villa clash
How many games Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are set to miss due to AFCON