Charge puts Wilshere in doubt for Blues clash
Jack Wilshere is facing a two-match ban, which would include the crunch clash with Chelsea, after being charged by the FA for appearing to make an offensive gesture at the Manchester City fans during the 6-3 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
The FA issued the charge retrospectively under its new pilot project for potential 'not seen' incidents in Premier League matches and Wilshere has until 6pm today to respond.
He could contest the charge, although video footage shows him raising his middle finger in the 68th minute of the match. Arsenal could also argue that there were mitigating circumstances and push for a shorter suspension or just a fine or warning.
Had the referee seen the incident and sent off Wilshere, the subsequent punishment would have been a two-match ban. That would now appear to be the likely sentence, with Blackpool's Thomas Ince also suspended for that period when he made an abusive gesture at an official earlier this season.
But Liverpool's Luis Suarez was suspended for one match, fined £20,000 and warned as to his future conduct after admitting a charge of improper conduct in 2011 when he raised his middle finger after a match against Fulham.
Arsenal's next two matches are against Chelsea and then West Ham. Any suspension would be particularly costly given that Arsene Wenger wants to rotate his squad during the busy festive period.
"If he did it and he is banned then we will have to accept it," Wenger said.
The FA charge yesterday for making an offensive and/or insulting and/or abusive gesture compounds a frustrating season for Wilshere. He has been back playing regularly following ankle and foot injuries but his form has not warranted a regular place in Arsenal's central midfield and he has been frequently used in a wider position.
Wilshere was also rebuked this season by Wenger after being photographed smoking during a night out and appears to have slipped down Roy Hodgson's England pecking order.
Former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown believes that the incident on Saturday should be addressed. "It's unfortunate that Jack Wilshere is involved in that sort of thing, and Wenger is right -- it needs to be stamped on," he said.
"We don't want Jack to go over the line. He is representing Arsenal and you have to remember who you are and what you are at all times."
An FA statement said that its three-man review panel was unanimous in agreement that Wilshere's conduct warranted a red card. (© Daily Telegraph, London)