Arsenal and Liverpool could benefit from recent AFCON tension

Arsenal and Liverpool to benefit? AFCON tensions erupt after joint-club letter regarding release of players

Tensions rise as clubs delay release of players bound for AFCON

The frustrating timing of the African Cup of Nations has once again come to the light after it was reported that clubs across Europe intend to hold their ground regarding the release of players destined to partake in the mid-season tournament.

Set to begin on 9 January and hosted by continental giant Cameroon, AFCON 2021 comes at a time when players are overburdened and overworked more than ever.

According to Associated Press global correspondent Rob Harris, the Worlds League Forum – an umbrella organization for domestic leagues across the globe – issued a statement to FIFA and CAF saying that players that are set to feature just after the new year will not be released until 3 January by clubs that have fixtures before that date.

This comes in defiance of FIFA’s statement that players should report for national team duty on 27 December. For Premier League clubs, that would mean players were to be made to report for duty just after Boxing Day, and in some cases, miss fixtures in the immediate aftermath during a hectic festive period in England.

Arsenal & Liverpool set to benefit?

Should the WLF’s stance be upheld, the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool could make the most of the delay in the release of six combined players between the two clubs that are set to have leading roles for their respective countries between 9 January and 6 February.

For Arsenal, the delayed departures of Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, and out of favor former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang comes as good news should their arrival at AFCON be temporarily delayed. Particularly regarding Partey and Elneny, who are key central figures for Ghana and Egypt respectively. Equally, the Arsenal pair comprise a considerable portion of a thin midfield cadre under Mikel Arteta.

Arsenal and Liverpool to benefit? AFCON tensions erupt after joint-club letter regarding release of playersArsenal and Liverpool to benefit? AFCON tensions erupt after joint-club letter regarding release of players

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 26: Thomas Partey of Arsenal turns away from Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on September 26, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Once the central duo departs, that leaves Arteta with just Granit Xhaka, youngster Sambi Lokonga, and fringe option Ainsley Maitland-Niles for a month given the assumption that Ghana and Egypt will make deep runs in a tournament where both nations are two of the favorites.

Liverpool is in a similar fix regarding a trio of stars set to miss time with Jürgen Klopp. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Naby Keïta are leading lights for Egypt, Senegal, and Guinea.

The absence of two key figures in a glistening front-three for the Reds this season could potentially scupper the club’s chances of hunting-down Manchester City at the top of the table, but their inclusion for just a little longer could make the difference in the end.

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Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 Manchester City 18 35 44
2 Liverpool FC 18 35 41
3 Chelsea FC 18 27 38
4 Arsenal FC 18 4 32
5 West Ham United 17 7 28
6 Manchester United 16 2 27
7 Tottenham Hotspur 15 -1 26
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 18 -1 25
9 Leicester City 16 0 22
10 Aston Villa 17 -2 22
11 Crystal Palace 17 0 20
12 Brentford FC 16 -1 20
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 16 -3 20
14 Everton FC 17 -8 19
15 Southampton FC 17 -10 17
16 Leeds United 18 -18 16
17 Watford FC 16 -10 13
18 Burnley FC 15 -7 11
19 Newcastle United 18 -23 10
20 Norwich City 17 -26 10
Player Team Goals
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 15
Jota, Diogo Liverpool FC 10
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City 9
Raphinha Leeds United 8
Dennis, Emmanuel Watford FC 7
Mount, Mason Chelsea FC 7
Ronaldo, Cristiano Manchester United 7
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur 7
Smith-Rowe, Emile Arsenal FC 7
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 7
Silva, Bernardo Manchester City 7
Antonio, Michail West Ham United 6
Gallagher, Conor Crystal Palace 6
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United 6
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion 6
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United 5
King, Joshua Watford FC 5
Gray, Demarai Everton FC 5
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace 5
Sterling, Raheem Manchester City 5

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