Crucial Chelsea duo set to miss three potentially PL title-deciding fixtures in January

Chelsea will probably have to make do without Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech at a pivotal point in the campaign due to international duties.

Both players have aspirations of representing their respective nations at the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

AFCON kicks off next January, running from the 9th to the 6th of February.

Whilst the continental competition is being contested, the Premier League will have reached a crucial stage of the season for many clubs.

None more so than Chelsea, whose potential title charge could be enhanced or damaged in the two months after New Year.

In January, Thomas Tuchel’s side are due to face Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.

Fixture schedules don’t get much heavier in the top flight, especially as all four teams could be pushing for the top spot.

City remain strong favourites to retain their crown, despite an opening day defeat to Spurs, who showed they are not going to be easily rolled over under Nuno Espirito Santo.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Liverpool have gone slightly under the radar in the build-up to the new term, but simply cannot be underestimated.

No Ziyech or Mendy

Chelsea are potentially going to face each of their rivals without the aid of Mendy or Ziyech.

The Blues goalkeeper will be representing Senegal at AFCON, whilst his attacking teammate should be waving the flag for Morocco, permitted the pair don’t get injured before the tournament.

Ziyech is currently recovering from a shoulder problem but should be back in time to pull on his country’s jersey.

Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

If the duo make it to the final, it’s more than likely they’ll also miss February’s domestic ties against Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal.

Mendy’s presence will be felt more than Ziyech’s, such is his prominent stature between the sticks.

Tuchel has plenty of attacking options to replace the Moroccan. Although, on his day, he is one of Europe’s most lethal providers.

Covering for the no.1 ‘keeper is not so straightforward.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Kepa Arrizabalaga claimed UEFA Super Cup final hero status for his efforts in the penalty shoot-out, but that was only for a matter of minutes.

Can he be trusted across a minimum of three matches? That’s for Tuchel to decide.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.