Out of Africa
Sky Sports takes a look at the stars set to miss a month of the English football season at the Africa Cup of Nations. What games will they sit out and how significant will it prove for their respective clubs?
By Adam Bate. Last Updated: January 10, 2013 6:56pm
Yaya Toure: Could his Africa Cup of Nations involvement decide the title race?
For the second consecutive year the Africa Cup of Nations is an added complication for a number of Premier League clubs. The tournament takes place in South Africa from January 19 to February 10 with some players potentially missing five Premier League matches. Sky Sports looks at the teams affected by the competition.
Arsenal - Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
The Gunners winger missed a crucial penalty in the shootout against Zambia in last year's final and has vowed to make amends this time around. The 25-year-old told Arsenal's official website: "It should have been a great moment and it turned into a nightmare. It was frustrating. My aim is to redeem myself this time and I know I will do it. I missed my penalty last year but this time I will score the winner to offer the trophy to Ivory Coast." With Gervinho planning a lengthy stay, Arsene Wenger is fortunate to be blessed with plenty of options in the forward positions.
Aston Villa - Karim El Ahmadi (Morocco)
El Ahmadi lost his place in the Aston Villa team over the Christmas period after featuring regularly in the early stages of the campaign. But with Paul Lambert's side now facing up the reality of a relegation battle, the loss of the 27-year-old is still a blow for such a crucial period. The Moroccan will definitely miss the West Midlands derby at West Brom and the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Bradford.
Chelsea - Victor Moses & John Obi Mikel (both Nigeria)
Moses might not be one of the bigger names at Stamford Bridge but Blues boss Rafael Benitez appears to be a fan of the forward. The 22-year-old has started nine of the last 12 games under the new manager and, with Chelsea still competing in four competitions, he will be missed. Mikel would also be a useful option in midfield but has featured just once since the Club World Cup semi-final against Monterrey due to injury. Chelsea are believed to be monitoring the player's fitness at Nigeria's training camp and a withdrawal cannot be ruled out at this stage.
Liverpool - Oussama Assaidi (Morocco)
The 24-year-old summer signing from Heerenveen is yet to start a game for the Reds in the Premier League after making a slow start to his career at Anfield. Assaidi has seen more action in the Europa League and if Morocco go all the way here then the winger is unlikely to be considered for the Valentine's Day trip to St Petersburg to face Zenit. Even so, with Brendan Rodgers looking for January additions, the unavailability of the player will surely not be a huge concern.
Man City - Kolo Toure, Yaya Toure & Abdul Razak (all Ivory Coast)
Not only do Manchester City have the most players involved in this competition but all three of them play for the Ivory Coast - the strong pre-tournament favourites. While Razak is a youngster who will benefit from the experience and the elder Toure brother is a squad player at the Etihad Stadium, the loss of Yaya looks potentially significant. The dominant midfielder is likely to miss the must-win trips to QPR and Southampton as well as home fixtures against Fulham and Liverpool. Roberto Mancini might feel he needs to win all four games to stay in the title race.
Newcastle - Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast) & Shola Ameobi (Nigeria)
Big miss for Newcastle
Magpies boss Alan Pardew has not shied away from the fact that his team are in a relegation battle so his frustration at losing two players at a key time would be understandable. Few would begrudge Ameobi the opportunity to play at an international tournament after his years of service - but the timing is not great as Newcastle get used to life without Demba Ba. The loss of Tiote could be even more significant, especially as the Ivory Coast are expected to go the distance. The combative midfielder risks missing Premier League games against Reading, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Tottenham as well as the first leg of the Europa League clash with Metalist Kharkiv.
QPR - Samba Diakite (Mali)
It's not been a great campaign for the Malian midfielder. He has had more red cards than wins in his 14 appearances for the Hoops this season. And that's unlikely to change any time soon as he heads to South Africa for international duty over the next month. By the time he returns, QPR's fate could already be sealed. Diakite will definitely miss the trip to West Ham on January 19 and the home clash with champions Manchester City 10 days later.
Southampton - Emmanuel Mayuka (Zambia)
Mayuka made his first Premier League start for Saints in their home defeat to Sunderland last month - but that is the only action the striker has seen since Bonfire Night in a disappointing start to his Premier League career. Indeed, the 22-year-old summer arrival from Young Boys has yet to score for his new club. Far from being missed, manager Nigel Adkins may be hoping that anything close to a repeat of last year's tournament triumph for Zambia will kick-start Mayuka's season.
Tottenham - Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo)
Dispute with manager?
The 28-year-old made a late decision to represent Togo in the competition and it seems that has not impressed Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas. Although the Portuguese coach has publicly insisted he is relaxed about the striker's decision, Adebayor has hinted otherwise. "That is what he said to the press, but not what he said to me," he said in an interview with africatopsports.com. "There is a difference between what you say to the press and what you say in private." Spurs must now consider reinforcing their frontline or risk being exposed if Jermain Defoe is injured over the next month.
West Brom - Youssouf Mulumbu (Congo DR)
One of the keys to Albion's early success this season was the partnership between Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob in midfield. "They are so calm and know how to pick passes out," goalkeeper Ben Foster told the Birmingham Mail. "Youssouf will do his usual, stick his big backside out so everyone has to roll around him but it's great to watch - both are so calm under pressure." That partnership has been broken up in recent weeks due to an injury to Yacob and Steve Clarke will be anxiously waiting to reunite the pair. But Mulumbu could miss as many as five Premier League games plus two matches in the FA Cup.
West Ham - Modibo Maiga (Mali)
Maiga has started just two Premier League games for the Hammers this season but he has been regularly involved from the bench and has four goals for the club in all competitions. With an FA Cup replay against Manchester United and a rearranged league fixture against Arsenal to fulfil later this month, it's a busy time for Sam Allardyce's men so Maiga is likely to miss out a good opportunity to strengthen his claims for a first-team spot. With the likes of Joe Cole and Marouane Chamakh already arriving in the January window, the Malian could find himself down the pecking order upon his return.
Wigan - Arouna Kone (Ivory Coast)
The 29-year-old striker is another player expecting to be involved in this tournament right through to its conclusion. Given that Wigan's next four Premier League games are against Fulham, Sunderland, Stoke and Southampton, the fortunes of Roberto Martinez's side will be a lot clearer when Kone returns. Do they have the firepower to cope without their top scorer? The summer signing from Levante has scored twice as many Premier League goals as any other Latics player this season.
Down the leagues:
Bristol City - Albert Adomah (Ghana)
Crystal Palace - Kagisho Dikgacoi (South Africa)
Millwall - Danny Shittu (Nigeria)
Nottingham Forest - Adlene Guedioura (Algeria)
Oldham - Dean Furman (South Africa)
Peterborough - Gabriel Zakuani (Congo DR)