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How will we cope without Aubameyang during the Africa Cup of Nations?

By Tony Attwood

With the African confederation now being run not by African officials who have an understanding with the European Leagues where their best players play, but by Fifa head office in Switzerland, and with Fifa in ceaseless war with the club associations such as Uefa, it is not surprising that after a one-off experiment the Africa cup of nations is back on during the European winter months rather than a time more sensible from the European perspective.

And why should Africa think of Europe?   Well, because the European clubs by and large pay their players’ wages, train them and make them better players.

Four clubs are unaffected by the forthcoming African Cup of Nations – clubs that tend not to look outward and so don’t recruit worldwide, and as a result will be trying to laugh their way up the league table: Leeds United, Norwich City, Newcastle very much not united at the moment, and of course the Tiny Totts.  Between them they have not one single player called up by a nation in the tourney.

But for the rest, Fifa are saying that players must be released by their clubs on 27 December, which is just under a fortnight before the kick off of the cup.  So players can play in the traditional round of fixtures on Boxing Day but then have to go and get injured elsewhere, unless of course the clubs can bribe the countries to let the players go late.  Which is what a number of clubs are trying to do.

Thus the Liverpool Echo are suggesting Liverpool want to delay departures until well into January before players join up with Senegal and Morocco respectively.  The application is that money may be changing hand, although of course I’ve no evidence either way.

But certainly the whole situation really is ludicrous – and this failure to agree to play the games outside of the season, or to suspend the PL season as has been done with regards the World Cup – could probably mean a further decline in the number of African players coming to Europe.

The players we are going to lose are Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pépé.

So two forwards going, and we’ve only scored 15 goals this season in the league.  And when we look at who has got the goals, the question must arise: when Auba goes who then will score?

Player Position Starts Subs Goals
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang* Forward 12 1 7
Emile Smith Rowe Midfielder 13 2 5
Alexandre Lacazette Forward 5 6 3
Bukayo Saka Midfielder 13 2 3
Eddie Nketiah Forward 2 0 2
Calum Chambers Defender/Midfielder 3 1 1
Gabriel Defender 10 0 1
Gabriel Martinelli Forward 4 5 1
Martin Odegaard Midfielder 8 4 1
Thomas Partey* Midfielder 9 1 1
Nicolas Pépé* Midfielder/Forward 7 2 1

*Goalscorers going to Africa.

So there are 26 goals recorded and eight of them have come from players who will now be missing.  That is one third of our goalscoring capability suddenly leaving.  So who can we use?

The forwards we will have left are Lacazette, Nketiah, Martinelli.  Smith Rowe and Saka can  be counted as well if the system is changed somewhat.  Is that really enough?

What about the under 23s?  We are currently second in the league scoring three goals a game…

Club
P
W
D
L
F A GD
Pts
1 West Ham United 13 9 1 3 33 17 16 28
2 Arsenal 13 8 2 3 38 28 10 26
3 Tottenham Hotspur 13 7 3 3 34 22 12 24
4 Manchester City 12 6 3 3 28 17 11 21

As for the players, the one big name up and coming is Folain Balogun who has played 11 of those 13 games for the under 23s and scored 15 goals, a superb return.  The nearest challengers are Biereth, M’Hand and Hutchinson who each have five goals.

So unless we suddenly buy a new forward we have got, Lacazette, Smith Rowe, Saka, Eddie, Martinelli and Balogun.   I suspect Eddie, Balogun and Martinelli will get game time either as subs or coming on from the start and being substituted early on, with Lacazette leading the forward line.

5 comments to How will we cope without Aubameyang during the Africa Cup of Nations?

  • Midoki

    Anyone who watches the games will be saying that Arsenal have a chance to start banging them in when Auba goes.
    I was saying this last season as well. Auba is a player who misses more big chances than any other top CF. Auba is a counter attacking CF who has proven that he can NOT hold the ball up in the EPL (too weak!) and we can’t trust him on easy tap ins, he is about his movement and not physical power.

    I am not surprised that Auba goals are drying up. He is getting older and his style of play is about his athleticism. Oh and he doesn’t have a player who can play the false 9 role and bring him into the game as often.

    Have you lot forgotten about how well Laca works with the younger players, much more of a ‘false 9’ who can bring other strikers into the game… No wonder Auba liked Laca eh? Auba had so many goals set up by Laca and I have not forgotten Lacas great work.

  • Silentstan

    Pepe going is an irrelevance. Auba going means that team
    play and link up will improve. Partey going is a shame, though irrelevant when considering goals, but Xhaka will be available. AFCON is an opportunity for Marti Ballo and others to impress

  • Uwot?

    We’re coping without him already lol.The guy is anonymous .It would be nice to play with 11 players for a change.

  • O.T.S

    Auba leaving for AFCON shouldn’t be a thing, we should be worry about.

  • O.T.S

    *** worried about

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