The African Cup of Nations is coming up again this January and with the potential loss of some of our players it's worth thinking about just how badly the competition will affect us, and our rivals. In the past we've always fared quite badly with so many Africans in our team (Adebayor, Touré, Eboue, Song, etc) but this season we're just down to Song, Gervinho, Chamakh and Frimpong.
As much as I'm sure all Arsenal fans feel bad for Alex Song, the fact that Cameroon didn't make it in to the tournament will not be leaving many Gooners disappointed. Despite the emergence of Frimpong and Coquelin we would have really missed Song had he gone. Coquelin has impressed me, as has Frimpong, but the youngsters show some indiscipline that Song has managed to stamp out of his game recently. Moreover, Song, in the last year, has improved his passing dramatically meaning that he is a genuine threat no matter where he is on the pitch.
It would seem that his potential inclusion in the Ghana squad would not matter with his first team equivalent staying behind this year but I think to immediately say his departure doesn't matter is a little bit presumptuous. With the rate at which our players get injured/recover from injuries we never know when we might need to call on the young Ghanaian and whilst he may not be in the first team plans right now a lot can change in three months.
The loss of Gervinho is a genuine worry. He may have started slowly this season but I think considering the difference in pace between the English and French leagues he has settled in remarkably well. His tally of two goals in eight games might not seem like much but if you include the assists he has too then suddenly his record looks a lot better. Not only that but he's developing a good relationship with van Persie too. The games against Stoke and Chelsea in particular showed what he's capable of and I think that by the time the ACN comes around we will be extremely worried by his departure. He is also likely to be gone for the whole tournament with the Ivory Coast bound to be favourites for the competition. If this were the case then he would be gone between mid January to mid February.
Love him or loathe him every team needs back up strikers and whilst he displays more signs of impotence than Pele on his famed viagra advert I'd still rather have him as a replacement over Park. I'm sure that Park will improve but I just don't think he fits the formation we play. He looked lost in the Marseille game and I think he needs a strike partner to bring the best out of him. Someone big. Like Chamakh. Who won't be there.
Games to be played
A number of important games take place during the tournament including the visit of Man Utd in the league and the FA cup fourth round. It will be annoying to have missed Gervinho for both of the Manchester Utd fixtures this year. Particularly after we need every player we can muster judging by our debacle at Old Trafford.
Obviously we will not be the only teams missing players as Kolo and Yaya Touré, Drogba, Essien and Kalou will also be missing. Also depending on whether we count Newcastle as a rival this year they will be missing Tiote and Demba Ba. Spurs, Liverpool and Man Utd will lose nobody, unless you count Mame Birame Diouf.
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