Eddie Nketiah was selected for a first Premier League start in Arsenal's game against Newcastle United on Saturday.

The 20-year-old was expected to go back out on loan after being recalled from Championship side Leeds United due to a lack of game time in January, but Mikel Arteta opted to retain his services.

After featuring as a substitute against Sheffield United and Burnley, Nketiah was chosen to lead the line against Newcastle at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Nketiah was joined in the front three by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe, with Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli dropping to the bench.

Dani Ceballos was handed a place in a Premier League starting line-up for the first time since a 1-1 draw with Wolves on November 2.

Arsenal spent their mid-season break on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, while Newcastle were granted an extended weekend off.

Steven Bergwijn has opened up on how his "world collapsed" upon hearing the news his good friend Abdelhak Nouri had suffered permanent brain damage.

Nouri collapsed during a pre-season fixture between Ajax and Werder Bremen in July 2017 and was placed in an induced coma.

The Amsterdam club later announced Nouri, a burgeoning talent in the club's academy, had been diagnosed with "serious and permanent brain damage".

Netherlands winger Bergwijn, who joined Tottenham in January, became big friends with Nouri – known as 'Appie' - in the youth ranks at Ajax before he switched to Eredivisie rivals PSV.

 "When I heard Appie had brain damage, I just can't describe my feelings," Bergwijn said.

"At that time I didn't sleep so much. In the first weeks I was scared to play, scared to go on the pitch because Appie was a young boy and out of nowhere. 

"It was difficult. It's still difficult. I speak to his brother every day but it's still difficult.

"We were like brothers. I have known Appie all my life, from when we were seven years old. We were in the same squad and since then we are best friends.

"We [PSV] played against RKC and I scored two. I was happy and after the game the team manager came to me and he said this has happened. Yeah, my world collapsed.

"I just waited for the calls from my agent because he went to see Appie. Then I heard two or three weeks later that he had brain damage. I can't describe it. At that time, I didn't sleep so much."

Bergwijn began his Spurs career with a sensational strike against Manchester City in a memorable 2-0 win earlier this month.

The 22-year-old had made a promise to Nouri's brother before making his debut for the Premier League club.

"I spoke with his brother and he told me, 'you're going to score for Appie,' and I said, 'okay, watch me, I'm going to score'. I did it."

Ajax were reportedly interested in bringing Bergwijn back to the club at the beginning of this campaign, but a move failed to materialise and he is now a Spurs player instead.

Bergwijn admits there was little time to think things through in January, saying: "My father called me and said, 'pack your stuff, you're going to London'.

"It was like this. It was fast. I didn't expect to make the transfer now, I thought in the summer. But if Tottenham wants you, you can't say no. It's an honour to be here.

"They have big players. In Holland, everyone regards them as big players, including me. But now they have welcomed me."

One win in five, two in seven, three in 10, four in 13: it is fair to say Chelsea's form in the Premier League has been well below what is expected of a 'big six' team.

However, the poor run of results has combined with missteps from Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham, leaving Chelsea ahead of them in the race for the top four - though a two-season European ban for Manchester City is set to offer fifth place a route to the Champions League.

Despite leading Arsenal to just one win in his seven Premier League games at the helm, it is widely accepted that Mikel Arteta's impact since taking over the Gunners has been positive.

Questions were asked of Jose Mourinho's influence at Tottenham amid a run of four wins in 10 in all competitions, but a defeat against Chelsea on Monday could deal a huge blow for for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at United.

The Red Devils have won three of their past seven in the top flight and five of their previous 11, so why is Frank Lampard not receiving the same level of scrutiny as his Norwegian counterpart?

 

A consistent approach

Although Lampard arrived at Chelsea with just one Championship season of managerial experience under his belt, he has implemented an attacking system with an increased passing tempo.

The players are comfortable in the positions they are deployed and can operate to the head coach's instruction, while he's also proved to be adaptable. A switch to a three-man defence and a high press earned a 2-0 win at Mourinho's Tottenham in December, while an in-game move away from that system after falling behind at Arsenal preceded a dramatic late turnaround for a 2-1 triumph.

A tactical switch resulted in United becoming the only team to deny runaway leaders Liverpool a Premier League victory this season, but, in contrast to Chelsea's front-foot approach, Solskjaer’s sides tend to offer more on the counter, with his focus appearing to be on speed and hard running.

Lampard's stock with fans was already high due to his status as a club legend and that has improved by laying on a more positive style than what was witnessed under Maurizio Sarri. Solskjaer, in contrast, has failed to move enough away from the defensive football that resulted in Mourinho's sacking at Old Trafford.

 

Market movements

A transfer embargo at the start of his tenure meant Lampard was unable to make any new signings after taking over from Sarri.

His focus on youth was a necessity, rather than out of choice, but he has still been bold in making Tammy Abraham his first-choice striker and trusting Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Reece James to make the step up to first-team regulars a season after successful loan spells in the Championship.

Abraham, Mount and Tomori have experienced dips in the quality of their individual displays, but that is only to be expected from young players.

Solskjaer has also shown faith in academy products - Brandon Williams and Mason Greenwood are regular fixtures in the first-team squad.

However, their transfer policy has become the subject of much consternation. Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward's house was attacked before a big-money deal for Bruno Fernandes was wrapped up in January, finally bringing an end to a saga that had been drawn out since the previous window. The arrival of Harry Maguire in the close season was similarly long-winded.

United appear to make a meal out of any major signing and are still yet to appoint a director of football to aid the process.

The structure at Chelsea is far clearer and while Solskjaer has been at pains to talk up his role in transfers, Lampard has made it clear such matters are largely out of his hands. By voicing his displeasure at a lack of signings in January, he cleverly moved to absolve himself of any blame.

 

Great (or not so great) expectations

The season was essentially a write-off for Chelsea before it had even started, a place in the top four would likely have been considered an overachievement.

Since being appointed permanently in March, Solskjaer has had to contend with failing to keep United at the level he inspired them to during his initial interim reign – he won his first eight games and 14 out of 19, while also securing a place in the Champions League quarter-finals before being appointed permanently in March. It took him until December to rack up another 14 victories.

The availability of Mauricio Pochettino, so often linked with United, has only served to sharpen the focus on the Norwegian and increase the speculation over his position.

A poor result against Chelsea will no doubt ramp it up further.

Manchester City's two-season Champions League ban could be about to reverberate through the Premier League.

Pep Guardiola's future had been a topic of discussion prior to UEFA handing down sanctions for "serious" Financial Fair Play breaches and the loss of European competition has fuelled suggestions the Catalan could quit the club.

Media reports indicate City already have alternatives in mind, and their search for a successor looks set to pose problems for Premier League rivals.

 

TOP STORY – CITY EYE PEP REPLACEMENTS

Mauricio Pochettino and Brendan Rodgers are among the contenders to take over at City if Guardiola walks, according to The Telegraph.

The report states the pair "would be in the running" to become the club's next manager in the event their current boss decides to leave at the end of the season.

Ex-Tottenham manager Pochettino recently admitted he would "love" to return to the Premier League, telling the 'In The Pink' podcast: "It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens."

The Argentinian has been heavily linked to City's cross-town rivals Manchester United, while Rodgers is tied to Leicester City until 2025.

ROUND-UP

- Juventus-linked Guardiola might not be the only big name headed for the Etihad Stadium exit. The Sun claims Real Madrid will launch an "all-out assault" in a bid to sign Raheem Sterling.

- City could potentially even be docked Premier League points for the same Financial Fair Play breaches that compelled UEFA to act, says The Guardian.

- Meanwhile, over at Old Trafford, United have set their asking price for Paul Pogba at £130million, reports the Daily Star.

- As for potential arrivals, United are interested in Norwich City pair Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons plus West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, states the Daily Mail.

- Serie A side Milan are no closer to extending Gianluigi Donnarumma's deal beyond June 2021, according to Tuttomercato, and LaLiga title contenders Madrid are monitoring the situation.

- Sky Sport Germany continues to link former Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac to manager-less Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin, who saw Jurgen Klinsmann leave earlier in the week.

Liverpool's match-winner Sadio Mane made the "perfect" return from injury at Norwich City - and now he looks primed to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was delighted with the impact of Mane, with the Senegal forward returning from his hamstring setback to strike a stunning late goal at Carrow Road.

A 1-0 win moved Liverpool 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City, preserving their record of having dropped only two points all season in the Premier League.

Mane and James Milner both came off the bench after recent lay-offs to play their part in Liverpool's 25th win in 26 league outings this term.

Klopp said: "It helps when you have such quality on the bench to bring on."

Now Liverpool turn their focus to Tuesday's first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie, a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Diego Simeone's Atletico.

"Sadio could have started, of course," Klopp said, "but I wanted to have a free decision for Tuesday actually.

"I don't think too often and too much about these games, but when two players are back from injuries, like Sadio and Fabinho, you don't think they can play two games. [Don't think they] should play; can, yes, if you have to, but should play.

"And the quality of the other boys is just too big that you have to push somebody through. It was perfect for Sadio to get a few minutes. It looked like he was ready, yes."

Klopp stressed Liverpool's performance in windswept Norwich was not perfect and spoke of the team playing "two or three or four long balls too many".

"Obviously our midfield was sometimes surprised by the long balls of our centre-halves and just couldn't push up early enough or quick enough, so we didn't win the second balls and all these kind of things," Klopp said in his post-match news conference.

"You need to get used to circumstances and after 45 minutes we knew how it feels. More information from us at half-time and we could improve, that was obviously much better then second half.

"We had so many counter-press situations where we won the ball back, where we put them under pressure, kept them under pressure and scored a wonderful goal. That's it."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson set up Mane's winner with a long pass that the striker took down skilfully before turning and firing past Tim Krul.

Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Henderson said: "It was a fantastic run from Sadio, great touch and a great finish – fantastic goal from him.

"It's good that Sadio is back after his injury and he's straight on the scoresheet, so nice to have him back and nice to get the three points."

Henderson added: "We've got to recover quickly, we've got another big game in midweek against Atletico Madrid which will be another tough test, so we've just got to go there and do everything we can to get a good result."

Jurgen Klopp expressed sympathy for Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City players after UEFA hit the Premier League champions with a two-season ban from European competition.

City swiftly announced their intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after Friday's punishment, which relates to breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations between 2012 and 2016.

Klopp's Liverpool were involved in a titanic title battle with City last season, missing out by 97 points to 98 in the final reckoning, but Saturday's 1-0 win at Norwich City extended their advantage this time around to a scarcely credible 25 points.

However, a burgeoning generational rivalry could be set to meet an abrupt end if the sanctions against City force a hasty rebuild at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola also competed against Klopp when the duo led Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and the Reds boss expressed admiration for the Catalan tactician after full-time at Carrow Road.

"It was a shock when it came out. Completely, 'Wow, what's that'?" he told Sky Sports.

"I'm a football guy, I can only speak about football and what Pep has done since he was in England is exceptional.

"All the rest I have no idea. At the moment I can imagine it is really difficult for the sports people to understand.

"You believe the people you work for and then someone else sees it completely differently.

"I really feel for Pep and the players. It's the first verdict, they will appeal and we will see what happens then.

"It’s obviously serious because UEFA would not react like that [otherwise]. The football City played was exceptional and is exceptional."

Klopp felt Liverpool were anything but exceptional before half-time against the Premier League's bottom side but Sadio Mane's introduction with half an hour to play proved decisive – the returning Senegal international scoring a fabulous winner 12 minutes from time.

"It was a difficult game for different reasons," Klopp said. "The wind, the organisation of the opponent and the way we played in the first half.

"The distance between the line was too big, we were a little bit too early with our long balls in behind.

"That's not exactly like how we wanted to do. The counter-press was not there because we did not press up.

"We had nice situations, good set pieces but not much more.

"We improved, Trent [Alexander-Arnold]'s positioning was higher. We were much more compact and could win the ball in the counter-pressing situations.

"Then we brought on Fabinho and Sadio – one was important for the organisation, gave Hendo [Jordan Henderson] the freedom to be more involved offensively, and Sadio was fresh and made the difference."

The moment Sadio Mane powered his size eight left boot through the ball to sink Norwich City was one of sheer inevitability, another challenger dismissed, that first Premier League title for Liverpool surely just weeks away now.

But what a peculiar contest it was at Carrow Road, Liverpool grinding away in a low gear, wearing down opponents they expected to crack, and who duly did.

Liverpool and Norwich don't play out low-scoring games, went the theory. We thought of Luis Suarez habitually ripping apart the men in yellow and green, the absurdity of Liverpool's 5-4 win at this ground in 2016, and more recently of the 4-1 spanking dished out to the Canaries on the opening evening of this season.

An eye-catching Opta pre-match statistic said that of the 359 fixtures to have been played more than 10 times in the Premier League, Norwich versus Liverpool had the highest goals-per-game average - 68 goals being plundered in 17 games.

But this never looked like following the four-goals-a-game average, and it would have been easy to daydream through the first 45 minutes.

Liverpool, mindful of their Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid next Tuesday, were not minded to direct the full might of their arsenal at their hosts, and Norwich are burdened by a nagging fear factor when it comes to the men in red.

They last enjoyed a victory over Liverpool in April 1994, when Jeremy Goss clattered a brilliant goal to secure a 1-0 win at Anfield, in the last match Liverpool played at their home ground before the famous Kop terrace was demolished.

It was the same week that saw Nelson Mandela elected as South Africa's president. One day after Goss and Norwich spoiled the party at Liverpool, sport was struck by tragedy when Ayrton Senna died after a crash at Imola during the San Marino Grand Prix.

A quarter of a century later, and Liverpool see sitting ducks when they clock the yellow in those Norwich shirts.

So it is 25 wins from 26 games for Jurgen Klopp's Reds in this season's top flight, and a 25-point lead over Manchester City, which is now the least of Pep Guardiola's worries.

When Liverpool last won the English title - the old First Division - their 1989-90 campaign contained the anomaly of two goalless draws against Norwich.

They won the league with 79 points from 38 games that term, finishing nine points clear of nearest rivals Aston Villa.

Now they have 76 from 26 and are heading for all sorts of records, especially if teams such as Norwich present themselves, flap and flounder and let an off-colour Liverpool pilfer the points.

Lukas Rupp effectively tripped over Norwich's team-wide insecurities when he bolted clear of the Liverpool offside trap late in the first half. Confronted with Allison, Rupp looked like a little boy lost and bungled a short-range pass to Teemu Pukki.

Liverpool cooked up a series of chances after the break, with Tim Krul heroically keeping the home side in the game before Alex Tettey rattled the outside of Alisson's right post from 25 yards. Alisson possibly had the ball covered.

Mane, returning from injury, came off the bench and injected a spark before rattling in the winner. He expertly took down a long pass from Jordan Henderson, turned sharply and lashed a left-footed shot past Krul.

Never doubt this Liverpool. The goal came in the 78th minute, but in another sense it had been long coming.

Klopp said the win was "outstanding" and his team - "these wonderful football players" in their manager's words - are almost over the line.

Their lead is "insane", Klopp said.

It's only February, but check the reality of this extraordinary situation, which on Saturday saw Norwich fans keenly posing for pictures with Klopp.

We're already witnessing a lap of honour.

Sadio Mane made a goalscoring return for Liverpool, coming off the bench to snatch a 1-0 win for the runaway Premier League leaders at Norwich City.

Jurgen Klopp's side were on top for long spells but ceded a clear chance in each half to the Canaries – Lukas Rupp botching a one-on-one and Alexander Tettey hitting the post.

Mane duly helped the Liverpool attack shift through the gears and stepped up with the winner 12 minutes from time.

The lead at the summit is now a gigantic 25 points for Klopp's rentless Reds.

Liverpool dominated possession and pushed their hosts back for the majority of the opening period but created little of note, save for a pair of sighters from the all-action Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Indeed, Norwich enjoyed the best opening of the half, only for Rupp to miss a simple pass to Teemu Pukki that allowed a scrambling Alisson to claw to safety.

Todd Cantwell fired into the side netting from a tight angle in the 52nd minute amid some ragged moments creeping into Liverpool's play, although a Naby Keita piledriver tipped over by Tim Krul showed their threat remained.

Krul excelled himself with a brilliant double save from Mohamed Salah and Keita before the hour, after which Mane's introduction from the bench gave fresh impetus to the Reds' attack.

Grant Hanley was forced to hack out of his own goal mouth in the 71st minute before Norwich surged forward on the break and Tettey almost caught out Alisson, firing a snapshot against the outside of the right post.

Hanley then miscued a free header from Ondrej Duda's corner and Daniel Farke's side would regret not making the most of that flurry.

Mane got the run on a tumbling Christoph Zimmermann – the centre-back picking a woeful moment to stain an otherwise towering display - to collect Jordan Henderson's raking ball and lash home a forceful left-footed finish.

Roberto Firmino could have ensured a nerveless finale but ballooned Alexander-Arnold's drilled cross over from close range in the 86th minute.

 

What does it mean? Reds' record charge remains on course

Liverpool are set to break a host of Premier League records on their march to glory and 17 consecutive Premier League wins means they are now only one behind Manchester City's all-time mark from the 2017-18 season. Norwich are seven points from safety at the foot of the table and entitled to feel slightly aggrieved over having nothing to show for their efforts.

Sadio on the Mane

Klopp getting Mane back in time for the return of the Champions League represents a huge boost. The verve and invention he injected into Liverpool's efforts here was palpable and decisive.

Oxlade-Chamberlain fails to press his claims

Filling in for any of Liverpool's much-vaunted front three is a thankless task and it was no surprise to see Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's number raised to make way for the returning Mane with half an hour remaining. The England international failed to make an impression on the contest, although a chunk of credit should go to Max Aarons, who excelled at right-back for the Canaries.

What's next

Liverpool travel to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday to resume their Champions League defence, with their next Premier League assignment coming at home to West Ham a week on Monday. Norwich travel to Wolves in eight days' time.

Matej Vydra struck the winner as Burnley overcame Southampton 2-1 in stormy conditions at St Mary's on Saturday and moved into the top half of the Premier League.

Burnley took the lead in bizarre circumstances after just 93 seconds when Danny Ings left Ashley Westwood's corner at the near post and Alex McCarthy, who was standing behind his line, was unable to keep it out.

Ings atoned for that error by firing his 15th league goal of the season into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box in the 18th minute.

Jack Stephens headed a cross from Sofiane Boufal - who went off injured in the first half - against the crossbar before the break and Burnley regained the lead on the hour mark, Vydra controlling Jeff Hendrick's long diagonal pass brilliantly before drilling home.

Southampton appealed for a penalty after Stephens' cross hit Ben Mee's arm, but referee Simon Hooper let play continue and VAR backed up his decision.

Nick Pope did well to deny Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the 90th minute and Sean Dyche's men hung on to make it four top-flight matches without defeat, while Saints have won just one of their past five across all competitions.

Pep Guardiola will consider his future at Manchester City after the club were hit with a two-season Champions League ban.

City were handed the sanction – and a €30million fine – by UEFA on Friday for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Premier League club have denied wrongdoing and intend to appeal the verdict, but they could face personnel problems if unsuccessful.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO CONSIDER MAN CITY FUTURE AFTER EUROPEAN BAN

Guardiola will consider his future as City manager at season's end unless the verdict is overturned, according to The Telegraph.

The Catalan – who has been linked with Juventus – is contracted until 2021 and had suggested previously he intended to honour his deal.

ESPN reports Guardiola is worried about how the ban will impact his players but does claim the former Barcelona coach would be willing to remain as long as he, personally, is happy.

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still under some pressure at Old Trafford, Manchester United are favourites to land Massimiliano Allegri as manager, according to Sport Mediaset. Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Roma are also reportedly interested in the former Juventus coach.

- Staying at Manchester United, the Manchester Evening News reports Leicester City star James Maddison wants a move to the Premier League giants. Maddison has been reported to be close to signing a contract extension at the King Power Stadium.

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming out of contract at the end of next season, Arsenal may opt to sell the forward during the next transfer window. The Mirror reports Inter are hoping to sign Aubameyang, who has also been linked to Barcelona.

- Olivier Giroud is prepared to wait to make a decision on his future despite coming out of contract at season's end. The Telegraph reports the Chelsea striker has been offered a pre-contract by Lazio but is in no rush to make a decision after attracting interest from Tottenham in January.

- Inter and Napoli are set for a transfer battle. CalcioMercato reports Hellas Verona and Albania defender Marash Kumbulla is a target for both clubs, who will need to pay at least €20m for the 20-year-old.

Mikel Arteta said Arsenal's progress since he took charge has been quicker than he expected.

Arsenal have shown signs of improvement since Arteta took over as head coach in December, losing just one of nine games, although only three have been wins.

While his side are 10th in the Premier League ahead of hosting Newcastle United on Sunday, Arteta has been happy with their growth.

"Progress has been quicker than I expected," he told reporters, via i.

"I've found out things I didn't know when I joined and have had to address. We haven't won [many] games but I have a clear picture of why not. There are many factors to that.

"We've got to start winning quickly. The next two or three weeks will dictate where we are in the last four or five weeks to challenge for Europe."

With just six wins in 25 Premier League matches this season, Arsenal are 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.

Arteta hopes to see even more progress from Arsenal after their mid-season break and ahead of what he said was a key period.

"We agreed on some targets, we've started to work on them, and hopefully you'll start to see the outcome in the next few weeks," he said.

"The players know how crucial the next three or four weeks will be for aims until the end of the season."

Jose Mourinho slammed the decision to schedule Tottenham's clash with Aston Villa on Sunday, saying there was a lack of care.

Spurs will host RB Leipzig in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday, just three days after making the trip to Villa Park.

Mourinho was critical of the scheduling and said it was unfair on Tottenham, who are sixth in the Premier League.

"I'll give you a very simple example. [Friday], Leicester v Wolves. Why? Do they have a Champions League game next week? No. Not Leicester, not Wolves. Wolves has a Europa League game on the Thursday," the Spurs head coach said.

"We are the team in England that plays a Champions League game on Wednesday. We don't play Friday, we don't play Saturday, we play Sunday. I don't think it is normal."

Mourinho said the decisions were harming last season's Champions League runners-up Tottenham.

"You can tell me it was because your game was chosen to be on TV on Sunday at 12pm and I ask you, in the other five matches of the Premier League this weekend, there is not another one that could be played on Sunday at 2.30pm? It's as simple as that," he said.

"That's the only thing I say – there is no care. They just chose what they want and they don't think how they can hurt an English team.

"And in this case we are going to be hurt because we are going to play on Sunday 2pm when we could perfectly play on Saturday or [Friday night]."

Willy Boly had a first-half goal disallowed by VAR as Wolves drew 0-0 with 10-man Leicester City at Molineux.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead on the stroke of half-time when Boly headed in following a short-corner routine, but the Foxes earned a reprieve when replays appeared to show Pedro Neto was marginally offside before he whipped the ball across.

Wolves had a numerical advantage for the final 14 minutes when Choudhury collected a second yellow card for bringing down Leander Dendoncker after he had slipped.

However, the hosts could not make their numerical advantage count, Raul Jimenez heading wide when unmarked eight yards out in stoppage time, with Wolves moving up to seventh and Leicester staying third.

UEFA's decision to hit Manchester City with a two-season ban from European football for Financial Fair Play breaches is likely to send shockwaves across elite club football.

But what next for the reigning Premier League champions at the eye of the storm?

Here, we have a look at what Friday's judgement means for City, Pep Guardiola and his Etihad Stadium stars.

 

Appeal could see City feature in next season's Champions League

City were swift in their response to UEFA's punishment, announcing their intention to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Irrespective of whether City are successful in their attempts to overturn the sanctions or not, any CAS case is likely to run for months, meaning the appeal could still be ongoing when next season's Champions League rolls around.

However, even if this means City kick the can down the road and line up in Europe's top competition in 2020-21, there is little doubt the spectre of UEFA coming down hard on the club does little for long-term planning.

Guardiola's future

Guardiola is under contract at City until the end of 2020-21 and, throughout the course of an uneven campaign this time around, has frequently hinted he could be open to a longer stay.

The prospect of being denied annual shots at the competition that has eluded him since a second win with Barcelona in 2010-11 might change that, while UEFA landed their bombshell during the same week rumours linking Guardiola to Juventus surfaced once more.

The 49-year-old might find it harder than most managers to separate himself emotionally from boardroom events, given his close friend Ferran Soriano – a man instrumental in bringing him to Manchester – is City's chief executive officer and mastermind of their commercial strategy. Will his response be motivated more by loyalty or disappointment?

Summer rebuild on ice?

Despite intermittently hitting their brilliant best, City's laboured pursuit of Liverpool this season has suggested the end of a cycle for a gifted squad that has swept all before them domestically.

At least one centre-back, a left-back, a winger and possible even another central attacker could all have been on the agenda, but a prospective Champions League ban must now alter City's transfer plans.

Leroy Sane's long-rumoured exit now appears even more likely, while Europe's elite might even chance their arm with enquiries over the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.

Time for the Foden generation

City will now be on the outside looking in as a cluster of Europe's elite pursue their former academy product Jadon Sancho, but the immediate prospects for those currently in residence at the Etihad Campus look to have suddenly improved.

Guardiola has long earmarked 2020-21 as the campaign where Phil Foden will come to long-awaited prominence, given David Silva is bringing down the curtain on a glorious decade in Manchester when this season concludes.

Centre-back reinforcement can also come from within in the form of Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, while the prodigiously gifted Jayden Braaf might find some of his reported disciplinary problems within the academy system can now be met with a blind eye.

Domestic dominance 2.0

City will cede the Premier League to a relentless Liverpool but their 2018-19 treble might be chased again with renewed vigour next term.

The first-team squad might lose some of its depth of quality in these new circumstances, but a talent pool such as City's only being required to compete on a weekend-to-weekend basis represents a problem for those Premier League rivals being extended at home and abroad.

City's Champions League relationship broken beyond repair

City's fanbase have long nursed an uneasy relationship with the Champions League and the detente Guardiola clearly desires is now nothing other than a pipe dream.

Expect the booing of the competition anthem to reach a seething boiling point when Real Madrid visit the Etihad Stadium next month.

In a tournament where they have frequently flattered to deceive, City could do worse than to harness a siege mentality in what Guardiola can sell to his players as a now-or-never tilt for glory.

European heavyweights thumbing through their accounts

UEFA's FFP system is safe for now, but the forthcoming CAS appeal could become a long and torrid process.

City are sure to present a thorough case, which could end up casting a light on the business operations of other major clubs.

All of European football's major players will be watching on with unswerving interest and suspense.

Manchester City face an uncertain immediate future in European competition after UEFA announced a two-season ban for the Premier League club on Friday.

European football's chief governing body, who also administered a €30million fine, ruled City were guilty of "serious breaches" of its Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

It marked the end of a lengthy probe into City's financial affairs, which was launched following a series of allegations made by German publication Der Spiegel in November 2018.

City denied any wrongdoing throughout the process and immediately announced their intention to appeal against the decision.

Below we take a look back at how this point was reached.

 

November 2018: Football Leaks allegations emerge

It has been 15 months since Der Spiegel published a host of articles claiming the defending Premier League champions flagrantly flouted UEFA's FFP laws. The German publication purportedly gained the information from whistleblowers Football Leaks and claimed Sheikh Mansour's City regime topped up multi-million-pound sponsorship deals with Abu Dhabi companies, using their owner's fortune, to meet the financial rules. It was also claimed City were cut a favourable deal by UEFA for overspending in 2014. City said in response: "The attempt to damage the club's reputation is organised and clear".

November 2018: UEFA warns City FFP investigation could reopen

UEFA said it would consider reopening a 2014 probe, which saw City fined and have restrictions on the size of Champions League squad imposed, if "new information comes to light". Early in December, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said: "We are assessing the situation. We have an independent body working on it. Very soon you will have an answer on what will happen in this concrete case."

March 2019: UEFA launches formal investigation

It was almost a year ago UEFA formally started an investigation into Der Spiegel's allegations, with Club Financial Control Board chairman and former Belgium prime minister Yves Leterme warning the "heaviest punishment" City face is "expulsion from UEFA competitions". City said: "The accusation of financial irregularities are entirely false. The club's published accounts are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record".

May 2019: City respond to ban reports

After reports emerged in the New York Times that City were facing the prospect of a one-year UEFA ban, the club released a statement registering concern that their "good faith" in UEFA's investigation into their financial affairs could be "misplaced". 

May 2019: "Hostile process" slammed by City

Leterme had earlier in the year told Belgian magazine Sport and Strategy that City should face a ban from UEFA competition if the allegations were proven. A strongly worded club statement slammed the CFCB investigation as a "hostile process" after the probe was referred to the body's adjudicatory chamber for a final decision after the completion of Leterme's inquiry. The club said they were "disappointed but regrettably not surprised" by the decision.

November 2019: Reports say City set to avoid ban

Towards the back end of last year, it was reported UEFA were struggling to enforce its FFP regulations and City could avoid a ban and escape only with a fine.

November 2019: CAS deems City appeal 'inadmissible'

In June last year, City appealed against UEFA's investigation into alleged breaches of FFP to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). However, five months later CAS ruled City's appeal as "inadmissible" because UEFA had not reached a final decision on the case.

February 2020: UEFA announces ban

After a lengthy process, UEFA announced City have been hit with a two-year ban from European competition and a hefty €30million fine. The Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB found City guilty of "overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts and in the break-even information submitted to UEFA between 2012 and 2016". City again questioned the process of the investigation and announced their intention to launch an appeal with CAS "at the earliest opportunity".

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