Africa Cup of Nations' effect on EPL
The absence of Didier Drogba and the Toure brothers could alter the title chase
On Jan. 2, Africa will begin the 28th edition of its continental championship. While the tournament itself is a big deal, the affect it will have on major European leagues may be an even bigger story. The English Premier League in particular is full of some of Africa's biggest stars who now will miss crucial time for their clubs. Overall, 12 players from six teams in the EPL will be affected by the Africa Cup of Nations, with much of the damage hurting the league's best squads. Here is a look at a few of the key players who will be out of action for the next several weeks.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Arguably, the biggest name taking his talents south is Drogba. The Ivorian has been active when on the pitch this season for the Blues. He is second on the team with 41 shot attempts, though only 11 have been on target and only two have beaten the keeper (not including one penalty goal).
Fernando Torres will be asked to pick up a lot of the minutes left behind by Drogba. This may not be such a good thing from Chelsea's perspective. While Torres' personal goal-scoring drought(s) have been documented since he left Liverpool early in 2011, Chelsea as a team also struggles to score with Torres on the field. Since his first EPL match for the Blues on Feb. 6, Chelsea has scored 1.3 goals per 90 minutes with Torres on the field, the second-lowest rate of Chelsea players who have played 1,000 minutes during that time. And even worse, the lowest rate is when Florent Malouda -- another attacker who will take Drogba's minutes -- is on the pitch. Drogba has the fourth-best rate among the 16 most used players.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
To see which teams will be hurt most by by players who've left for the Africa Cup of Nations, become an ESPN Insider.
Insider Soccer Content
Latest contentFeb. 1: USMNT: January transfer impact
Jan. 31: USMNT: Shea's big chance at Stoke
Jan. 31: El Tri: Youth report card from friendly
Jan. 30: USMNT: How U.S. can fix its defense
Jan. 29: El Tri: Who should be Mexico's keeper?
Jan. 28: USMNT: Projecting U.S. WC lineup
Jan. 25: USMNT: Josh Gatt's promising future
Jan. 24: USMNT: Omar Gonzalez's big chance
Jan. 24: El Tri: Carlos Vela's murky El Tri future
Jan. 23: El Tri: Depth Chart 1.0
Jan. 23: USMNT: Nick Rimando's important role
Jan. 22: El Tri: Jorge Enriquez on Mexico future
Jan. 21: Latham: Top 25 U.S. U-21 prospects
Jan. 21: USMNT: Jozy Altidore on the rise
Jan. 18: USMNT: Jones on his U.S. future
Jan. 17: USMNT: Depth Chart 1.0
Jan. 17: USMNT: Breakout players for 2013
Jan. 16: USMNT: Where does Holden fit in?
Jan. 14: USMNT: Hot List: Agudelo's big chance
Jan. 9: USMNT: Can Wondolowski produce?
Jan. 8: El Tri: WC chances for four veterans
Jan. 7: USMNT: Stock watch
Jan. 6: USMNT: Jan. camp surprises
Jan. 3: El Tri: A wish list for 2013
Jan. 2: USMNT: A wish list for 2013
Dec. 31: USMNT: 2012 USMNT awards
Dec. 28: USMNT: Top 5 moments of 2012
Dec. 27: El Tri: Top moments of 2012
Dec. 26: USMNT: Top transfer rumors
Dec. 21: USMNT: Players who missed Top 25
Dec. 20: El Tri: 2012 year-end awards
Dec. 19: Top 25 American players
Dec. 19: USMNT: Bradley is Yanks' best player
Dec. 18: El Tri: Players who may transfer to Europe
Dec. 13: Larcada: Projecting the UCL draw
Dec. 11: El Tri: Top 25 U-21 prospects
Dec. 10: USMNT: Young prospects on the rise
Dec. 5: USMNT: Matt Besler's chances
Dec. 4: El Tri: Players who struggled in Liga MX
Dec. 3: USMNT: U-17s impressive in Nike Friendlies
Nov. 28: USMNT: Would Aron Johannsson help?
Nov. 27: El Tri: Standouts in Liga MX
Nov. 26: USMNT: MLS' development problem
Nov. 21: USMNT: Things to be thankful for
Nov. 20: El Tri: Mexico's tough '13 schedule
Nov. 15: El Tri: Brazil Board 2.0
Nov. 14: USMNT: Russia friendly takeaways
Nov. 13: El Tri: U-17s retain lofy status
Nov. 8: Larcada: Ranking Europe's top teams
Nov. 6: El Tri: High hopes for U-20s
Nov. 5: USMNT: Qualifying challenges for U-20s
Oct. 30: How would Mexico fare in CONMEBOL?
Oct. 29: USMNT: Potential solutions at winger
Oct. 25: Projecting U.S. 2014 World Cup roster
Oct. 24: USMNT: Ranking CONCACAF Hex teams
Oct. 24: El Tri: Mexico is top Hexagonal team
Oct. 23: What USMNT looks like minus Donovan
The best Mexican national team blog around
USA Soccer Blog
Tracking all the news around the U.S. national programs
Top 25 American players
Who are the best U.S. players right now?
Top 25 U.S. U-21 prospects
Who are the top young players for the U.S.?
The Brazil Board
What will Team USA look like in 2014?
Top 25 Mexican U-21 prospects
Jorge Enriquez leads potential El Tri contributors
El Tri Brazil Board
What will Mexico's lineup be in 2014?