How will the Asia Cup and Afcon influence the Premier League relegation battle?

 | January 04 | 

4 mins read

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Some major names will miss Premier League action over the next month as both the Asia Cup and African Cup of Nations take place.

The likes of Heung-min Son and Mo Salah will miss up to four league fixtures between now and mid-February, but it is at the bottom of the table where the biggest impact could be made.

Premier League relegation odds

  • Brentford to be relegated @ 8/1
  • Nottingham Forest to be relegated @ 10/3
  • Burnley to finish bottom @ 7/2

Nottingham Forest have impressively won their last two matches under new boss Nuno Espirito Santo, against Newcastle United and Manchester United respectively. But having just found his feet in the Forest dugout, the Portuguese is now set to lose a league-high total of six players to these two major international tournaments.

Ivory Coast trio Serge Aurier, Willy Boly and Ibrahim Sangare will all be absent from the City Ground this month, and they will be joined by Moussa Niakhate, Ola Aina and Cheikhou Kouyate. Boly has made 16 appearances this term but has lost his position in the starting XI under Nuno. Meanwhile, Niakhate and Aina have come to the fore in the defence in recent weeks and will be hugely missed during this period. 

They will surely be weakened by the absence of such key players, but their bloated squad should allow the new manager to find a solution. Intriguingly, their next Premier League game - on January 20 - comes against Brentford, with the Bees seemingly in freefall. They’ve now lost five in a row, with their last win coming at the start of December against Luton Town. 

Thomas Frank's side will lose four players this month, the second highest total in the division, as midfielders Saman Ghoddos (Iran), Ji-Soo Kim (South Korea) and Frank Onyeka (Nigeria), along with striker Yoane Wissa (DR Congo) head off on international duty. From that list, Wissa will undoubtedly be the biggest miss, especially when you consider that Bryan Mbeumo is out injured and Ivan Toney’s future looks uncertain. 

The English forward is set to return from suspension this month but has constantly been linked with a move away from the Bees. Given their awful form, and the potential absentees over the next four weeks, the 8/1 on offer for them to be relegated appears to be decent value, especially if they lose to Forest in their next match. 


Brentford currently sit only four points above the relegation zone in 16th, just above Everton and Luton. Sean Dyche will only lose Idrissa Gana Gueye this month, while Rob Edwards has the benefit of keeping his entire squad together during this period. As a result, this month presents a huge opportunity for both teams to gain ground on their relegation rivals.

The Hatters currently sit in the bottom three but have been more competitive than many onlookers thought they would be at the start of the season. Now survival is a real possibility, and the club have won two of their last three matches. With a huge relegation trip to Burnley on the horizon, Edwards will be thankful his squad will be at full strength ahead of their trip to Turf Moor. Instead of losing players, Luton could use January to add to their squad, given they still have a shot at survival when critics believed they would already be cut adrift at this point. 

These next four games could present them with a huge opportunity to gain ground on their rivals, given they’ve been handed a boost with other teams' absentees. There doesn’t seem to be too much concern around Everton right now, despite remaining just one point above the drop zone and having been battered by Wolves last time out, but perhaps that’s just the Sean Dyche effect.

Dyche has without doubt done a wonderful job in terms of overhauling the 10-point deduction Everton were handed. However, he was unable to stop Burnley getting relegated two years ago and if faced with another relegation battle, he may not be as bulletproof as everybody believes. Abdoulaye Doucoure’s return from injury should help him out and the Mali international will not be playing at this year’s Afcon, in a boost to the Toffees. 

Sheffield United will retain the majority of their core squad, while Burnley are also hoping to gain ground and spark an improbable survival tale, given they will not lose any players during this period. Those two obviously have more ground to catch up than Luton do, but this month still presents an opportunity to the other two newly-promoted sides. 

The biggest concern in my eyes is for Brentford. The club which has received so much praise over the past few years now looks to be in a difficult spell. At this current moment in time it doesn’t look like Frank can find the answers and, to make life tougher, he is now set to lose Wissa for an entire month. Unless Toney comes back into the side and hits the ground running, the Bees could get stung by a resurgent Luton Town. And if their star striker departs this month, it could spell curtains for their Premier League status.

Check out our other Football Betting Tips here. 

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