Friday, January 20, 2012

Clubs start life without African stars


Losing key players at any stage of the season is far from ideal, so when clubs lose in-form star men during the Africa Cup of Nations it must be particularly frustrating for Premier League managers.

The turn of the year is notoriously difficult for clubs – with injuries, suspensions and fatigue playing a part after a busy festive period. The the premier league odds of sides can be decided during the opening months of a new year.

Robert Mancini will be hoping his Manchester City side can cope without the Toure brothers, although the early signs aren’t good. Yaya and Kolo are on duty for Ivory Coast and City have lost both games in their absence.

Ivory Coast are favourites in the soccer betting for the competition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, so the Manchester club could have to make do without the influential brothers until the middle of February.

Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou will also feature for Ivory Coast, which is a blow to Chelsea’s top-four aspirations. Despite being in the twilight of his career, Drogba is still an influential member of Andre Villa-Boas’ squad and will be sorely missed.

Perhaps the club most affected by the mid-season tournament are Newcastle United. Demba Ba has been the surprise package this season and has been at the heart of all things good for Newcastle with 15 Premier League goals. Cheick Tioté is also on international duty. It will be a tough month for Alan Pardew’s men.

At the other end of the table, Wigan have lost Mohamed Diame and Mark Hughes will have to work without Adel Taarabt and Arman Traore during his first few weeks at the helm at Queens Park Rangers.

How those sides cope in the absence of some key men may dictate where they finish this season.


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