With the postponements and cancellations that have plagued this season, it is rare the football calendar benefits Tottenham but for the next month, it might.
Due to concerns over Covid – among other things – the African Cup of Nations tournament (AFCON) has twice been postponed, with the event finally scheduled to run this January and into February. For many Premier League teams, this presents a problem as the schedule changes mean that AFCON is not on the regular FIFA calendar and thus there is not an accompanying ‘international break’ in play coinciding with the competition.
Without a break in the schedule for AFCON, some teams are going to be impacted, including Chelsea who Tottenham faces three times in the next three weeks. The Blues are not alone in being impacted by AFCON, as the other semi-finalists in the Carabao Cup, Liverpool and Arsenal also have players heading off to represent their country, while Tottenham does not.
Who will be missing from the teams that face Tottenham
The impact on Chelsea is not huge in terms of the number of players, two, however, both Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech who play for Senegal and Morocco respectively are impact players. The absence of Mendy is particularly impactful as the keeper has been just short of spectacular all season for the Blues.
There is probably never a good time to play Chelsea but to face them without their number one keeper is definitely a plus. Without Ziyech, the Blues’ attack is a bit less dynamic and not as deep but pales compared to Mendy missing out.
Arsenal has four players who are likely to be out when the Gunners visit Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 16 January. Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Thomas Partey (Ghana), and Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast) should all still be out when the league play resumes, favoring Spurs.
This does not mean Liverpool gets a free pass in the other Carabao Cup semi-final, as Mohammed Salah (Egypt), Saido Mane (Senegal), and Naby Keita (Guinea) will all be out for Liverpool during the tournament.
All told, some sixteen teams in the Premier League will be losing at least one player, fortunately for Tottenham, they are not one of them. Now whether or not Spurs can take advantage of a little timely fortune in the schedule remains to be seen but for once, things may favor Tottenham.