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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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FA determined to make example of Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor will be charged by the FA today with violent conduct for his stamp on Robin van Persie and will miss the Manchester derby. The striker will be banned for three matches, with the FA viewing the incident as a red card offence.

But the Manchester City new-boy also faces a list of other disciplinary action, as the FA will also announce its decision to investigate a potential improper conduct charge relating to the same player's incitement of crowd trouble.

And, if the FA chooses to punish a second stamping incident involving Cesc Fabregas, Adebayor's ban could increase to four games.

The first FA charge, I would anticipate, will be made today in respect of the on-field issue and is sure to see the City striker banned for a minimum three matches, as if he received a straight red card. But with the severity of the violent conduct, coupled with the Fabregas incident, the FA have the power to hand out a four game suspension.

The crowd related incident sparked by the player's goal celebration is more contentious, as the last player to be punished for a similar incident, Gary Neville, escaped with a fine - although Nathan Tyson is currently awaiting judgement over a flag waving incident against Derby.

However, attitudes have hardened at Soho Square after the recent crowd disturbances at West Ham, and the FA now believe that the game needs to be urgently cleaned up to improve the chances of the 2018 World Cup bid.

So a suspension is a distinct possibility. Indeed, with the two charges and the prospect of further action over his celebration, Adebayor could face a five match ban in total.

But that is not the end of the player's punishment, with word coming from Manchester City that the disciplinary book will be thrown at Adebayor and an internal fine totalling £200,000 dished out.

I understand that City are hugely embarrassed by the outcry against their £25m centre-forward and plan to make a strongly worded statement condemning his behaviour. The board held a series of discussions throughout Sunday and gave the green light for boss Mark Hughes to have the final say on disciplinary matters. But an indignant City plan to take the disciplinary initiative and act even before the FA decide, inevitably, to issue charges against Adebayor for raking the face of Van Persie.

Hughes will fine his player the maximum possible under the rules, not only for the ugly attack on the Dutchman, but also for the way he celebrated his goal, despite the alleged provocation, in the form of taunts from the Arsenal fans.

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