We are halfway through the Premier League season and the title race is wide open with Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, and surprise package Aston Villa all within touching distance of one another.
The other end of the table looks worrying for the newly promoted trio of Sheffield United, Burnley, and Luton. However, a run of form could see them escape the relegation zone and drag a number of other teams into the battle to stay up.
The month of January is key to Premier League teams as the transfer window allows players to be brought in and moved on to ensure team squads are ready for the remainder of the season.
Another significant factor to affects many Premier League teams is the AFCON and Asia Cup which could see key players called up for international duty. The African Cup of Nations sees the Group stages being played between January 13th and January 24th. Teams that progress could end up playing right up until February 11th when the final takes place.
The Asia Cup group stages run from January 12th to January 25th with the final taking place on February 10th. This information can also be extremely valuable to sports fans who enjoy playing fantasy football or betting on Premier League markets.
The loss of key players in some fixtures can result in some interesting betting opportunities. Even consumers who have signed up for the GAMSTOP programme can consider legitimate betting sites outside UK regulations to place bets on Premiership matches.
How Call-Ups Could Affect Premiership Teams
Teams Not Affected by the AFCON and Asia Cup
Only three Premiership teams will not see their squad impacted by potential call-ups for international duty during the AFCON and Asia Cup. Other teams may find players overlooked, but the teams below can plan ahead for January without the threat of losing players to these competitions.
- Manchester City
Teams Affected by AFCON and Asia Cup Call-Ups
January is the ideal time to search for replacements for players who aren’t fitting into a team’s style of play or to strengthen an injury-ravaged squad. Some teams may also need to plan ahead in case they lose key players on international duty.
The following teams could all be affected by the AFCON and Asia Cup competitions and may lose players for as long as a month depending on how far different countries progress.
Arsenal is on course to challenge for the Premier League title again, and after narrowly missing out last season will be keen not to slip up. During January they will potentially lose Egypt's Mohamed Elneny, Ghana's Thomas Partey, and Japan's Takehiro Tomiyasu.
None of these players have featured regularly this season apart from Tomiyasu in the first 14 games, so this shouldn't be too big of an issue.
Bertrand Traore of Aston Villa gas only made two substitute appearances this season, this could be great news for Villa's surprise title charge.
Bournemouth's Burkino Faso midfielder Dango Ouattara has featured in their matchday squad consistently, but they will be confident they have the players to survive without him.
Brentford could suffer through the loss of key players including Yoane Wissa, Saman Ghoddos, and Frank Onyeka. Squad player Ji-Soo Kim could also be called up, leaving the squad threadbare through January.
Brighton are set to lose Simon Adingra and Kaoru Mitoma during the two competitions, with squad player Tariq Lamptey also likely to be called up.
Only Chelsea's Nicolas Jackson is set to be away from the squad and it could be helpful for him to get away from the pressure of the Premiership to hopefully find form with Senegal. In the meantime, Chelsea's Christopher Nkunku should fill the gap well.
Crystal Palace will be without the experience of midfielder Jordan Ayew who joins up with Ghana for the AFCON, they should have enough squad depth and strength to deal with this loss.
Idrissa Gueye hasn't featured much in the last five matches for Everton, and Sean Dyche will be confident his team can battle on without him.
Fulham's Nigerian duo of Calvin Bassey and Alex Iwobi will be a big loss for a team that has been wildly inconsistent with some huge wins and disappointing losses in recent games.
The loss of Wataru Endo will not be as detrimental to Liverpool's title challenge as losing the talismanic Mohamed Salah who is joining Egypt for their AFCON adventure.
Luton's Issa Kaboré's recent injury ensured they had ample preparation for losing the defender to Burkino Faso's AFCON challenge.
Manchester United could be without Onana, Amrabat, and Amad Diallo and it will be in goal where they feel this most. Onana's form has been questioned this season. Manchester United will look to Altay Bayindir who may seize his opportunity for the No.1 jersey.
Nottingham Forest will be without four defenders in Aurier, Boly, Nikhate, and Aina, and the midfield duo of Sangare and Kouyate for the AFCON. Three Ivory Coast players, two Senegalese, and one Nigerian means that these key players could be missing for longer than the group stages.
Sheffield United's Anis Ben Slimane and Yasser Larouci are considered to be squad players so the Yorkshire team shouldn't miss them too much in their fight against relegation.
Since losing Harry Kane in the Summer, Tottenham have relied on South Korean captain Son Heung-min to drive Ange Postecoglu's attacking style. He will be a big loss, and the midfield will also be without Senegal's Pape Sarr and Mali's Yves Bissouma.
West Ham's Ghanaian winger Mohammed Kudus has been in scintillating form this season and will be a big loss for Moyes' men.
Wolves will be without key forward Hee-Chan Hwang who joins South Korea for their Asia Cup campaign. Rayan Ait-Nouri, Boubacar Traore, and Justin Hubner could also be missing.