Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham receive AFCON boost ahead of busy Premier League schedule

Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham have received AFCON boosts for their players as they will be allowed to remain at their clubs until January 3 at the latest.

Initially, there were fears that all London clubs, amongst others in the Premier League, would be missing their key stars for the new year’s gameweek, but Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah being given special permission to stay in the country for the Chelsea clash has now been followed by AFCON making the decision for all teams.

As per Sky Sports, CAF has agreed to allow players to play for their clubs between December 27 and January 3 before joining up with their national squads for the Cup of Nations finals, which kick-off in Cameroon on January 9.

That will come as a relief to English clubs who had been due to lose their African players by the official release date of December 27, although some had made individual arrangements for players to stay with them for as long as possible before the start of the tournament.

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“This decision is taken in the spirit of goodwill and solidarity with the affected clubs in recognition of the fact that they, like all members of the football community, have been adversely affected by the onset of the Covid pandemic,” said a FIFA letter sent on Sunday to the World Leagues Forum and the European Leagues grouping.

FIFA then went on to add: “It is also assumed that a spirit of mutual cooperation remains between CAF and all relevant stakeholders in this regard, including related to the release of players and the provision of sporting exemptions to travel and quarantine restrictions if required in the future.”

For Arsenal, they will have the unwanted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang available for the Man City home clash if manager Mikel Arteta decides to select the Gabonese.

Additionally, Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny are options that Arteta could utilise before they all jet off for the competition.

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Meanwhile, in west London, Edouard Mendy will now most likely be in between the sticks for the visit of Liverpool on January 2, despite Kepa Arrizabalaga’s promising forms in the cup competitions.

Finally, in east London, West Ham will now have Said Benrahma available for selection against Crystal Palace whilst the Eagles themselves can now field the likes of Wilfred Zaha and Cheikhou Kouyate amongst others present on the Selhurst Park pitch for this London derby.

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