With Granit Xhaka sidelined for the next four matches and Santi Cazorla out, many Arsenal fans are wondering when will Mohamed Elneny will be back from the Africa Cup of Nations?
Egypt, sadly (for us, not for Elneny, obviously) are one of the teams who are real contenders for the trophy this year despite underperforming at the tournament so far.
Even though their performances have been below what was expected, they are second in their group with four points and one game left to play. Three points ahead of Mali, they will need to avoid defeat by a couple of goals when they play group leaders, Ghana on Wednesday.
Given they are unlikely to get a hammering from a side that has only scored two goals in two games against Mali and Uganda (Egypt have yet to concede), they will then play a quarter final on Sunday, 29 January. A win against Ghana would see them top the group.
If they win the group, they will face the runners-up from Group C, which is still far from decided. Top side, Congo DR currently top the group with four points. They face bottom side, Togo, who have one. Second and third (Morocco and Ivory Coast, three and two points respectively) play each other. Technically, any side could still win this group.
If Egypt finish second, they will face the winners of the same group.
Assuming Egypt lose this match, Elneny will likely return to Arsenal immediately but we play Watford on 31 Jan and he is unlikely to be involved in that game, given his travel schedule.
If Egypt win, they will then play a semi-final on either 1 or 2 February. Even if they lose this match, Elneny will not be back in time for Chelsea on 4 Feb as they will have to play a third-place play off on the same day.
The final is on 5 Feb but by this point, it makes no difference to Elneny’s return. Arsenal don’t play again until 11 Feb, when the midfielder should certainly be back in the ranks for what will be Granit Xhaka’s final game of his suspension.