Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is set to miss the fulcrum of his side's festive schedule after being charged by the Football Association following an alleged abusive hand gesture in the 6-3 defeat at Manchester City.
While it initially went unnoticed by match officials, Wilshere was spotted in television pictures raising a finger towards the crowd and a recorded video of the incident has since been assessed by the FA.
The incident occured in the 68th minute when the England international appeared to disagree with a refereeing decision to award City a goal kick.
Wilshere, 21, now has until 18:00 GMT on Wednesday to respond to the charge but faces a two-game ban if found guilty.
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for one match for motioning towards Fulham supporters in December 2011 but Blackpool's Tom Ince recently missed two games for an indentical offence.
If found guilty Wilshere will definetly miss the visit of Chelsea on 23 December and the trip to West Ham United on Boxing Day and leaves manager Arsene Wenger with depleated resources during the busiest period of the season.
In a statement the FA said: "Wilshere has been charged retrospectively by the FA under a new pilot project for potential 'not seen' incidents in Premier League matches.
"Under the new process, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel will be asked by the FA to review it and advise what, if any action, they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time.
"For an FA charge to follow, all three panel members must agree it is a sending-off offence. In this instance the panel was unanimous."
Wenger was quick to respond to the allegations after the defeat at the Etihad Stadium saying: "If he did it and he is banned then we will have to accept it."