EPL's Top 10 Bad Boys for the 2013-14 Season
Mario Balotelli has gone and left us. So has Joey Barton, the poor loaned-and-relegated chap.
So to who now will Premier League viewers turn for their feisty, frenzied and sometimes overly not-very-nice moments of madness?
Thankfully, there are still plenty of characters in the league who can be counted on to make bad habits of making mistakes for our amusement. Here are the Top 10 bad boys for next season's top flight in England, covering a whole variety of misdemeanours.
May as well start somewhere near the top, right?
John Terry is a committed, determined, driven individual, and sometimes he just goes too far. Whether it's a sneaky knee in the back or a bit of a naughty word in the ear of an official, Terry can be counted on to toe the line with regularity and step across it once too often.
Terry's first battle of the season will be to win his place back—then he'll need to battle himself to avoid losing it again to stupidity and suspension.
Whoever wrote the book on misdeeds in football forgot to write the chapter on what happens next after you bite somebody.
Where does Luis Suarez go from here?
His future is far from certain at present, but after two-and-a-half years in the Premier League he's missed a total of 20 games due to suspension.
And he has yet to be shown a red card.
Perhaps this is his year.
Paolo Di Canio
Everybody loves a character on the sidelines, and that's exactly what Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio will be this season.
Having kept Sunderland away from relegation last season he has gone out and spent big so far this summer, with Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini amongst their newest recruits.
Di Canio will strut, shout, gesticulate and glare from his technical area, and whether it be during a game (who'd like to see him push another referee over?) or in one of his postgame interviews, Di Canio will surely go too far on one occasion and land himself a nice big fine or a suspension.
Back to on-field matters now and a rather bruising central defender, Robert Huth tends somewhat toward the more physical and robust side of the game when making challenges.
The Stoke centre-back made an average of 1.9 tackles per game last season in the Premier League—and committed an average of 1.3 fouls per game, a rather disproportionately high ratio.
Huth only got shown five yellow cards last season but more than one unsavoury incident, blindingly obvious to those watching on their screens, went unpunished. The same again this year is both likely to be seen and likely to, this time, result in a suspension or two.
Talking of unsavoury incidents going unpunished, rumours are so far unconfirmed that Marouane Fellaini will be asked to wear goal-line technology sensors on his elbows this year so that officials can tell when he has made contact with an opponent's face.
How on earth the Belgian failed to be shown a red card last term was unfathomable—though the statistic of him committing more fouls per game on average than any other Premier League player, was not.
Play him enough times and Lee Cattermole will guarantee a manager commitment and cards.
He only featured 10 times last season for Sunderland, yet still managed an impressive two yellow cards and 15 fouls.
Go back a year and that rises to an impressive 10 yellows and 51 fouls in just 23 starts.
The previous two years combined? A total of 15 yellows and three reds from just 41 games. Some players just can't help launching themselves into tackles when they know they can't win the ball, they know they'll be in trouble.
Cattermole is one of those players.
And Steve Sidwell is another.
It's not likely that he'll repeat last season's feat of getting sent off twice in two matches, but Fulham's aggressive central midfielder still commits way too many fouls for his own good.
Perhaps it's partly because he's infrequently handed the chance to start and impress that he overcompensates, but Sidwell was one of just a small handful in the league to average out at two fouls per game or more last term—and picked up seven yellow cards as well as his two reds.
Now to someone known for causing trouble and mayhem in an impressive array of methods: Chelsea's Ashley Cole.
Cole's misdemeanours by now need no introduction; all that remains is to hazard a guess at why or how he gets himself into trouble during the coming season.
Will it be on the pitch? Off it? With fellow professionals or a third party? All is fun and games at Stamford Bridge.
Craig Gardner doesn't necessarily come across as a bad boy, but he has the rather unwitting distinction of being the player awarded the joint-highest amount of yellow cards last season—10 in total—and making the least number of starts out of the players who equaled that total.
The former Villa man has played out of position at right-back for much of the last year, which might explain part of his poor disciplinary record.
Fifty-one fouls during the course of the season isn't a bad record either. How about a combination of Gardner and Cattermole in midfield next season?
Cheik Tiote is our final bad boy, having gained himself a reputation as a tough, and pretty poor at times, tackler.
The Newcastle United enforcer committed a hefty 2.4 fouls per game on average last season, earning himself seven yellows and a red in the process.
Tiote is aggressive, committed, fiery and over-the-top in the tackle at times. In short, a perfect candidate for a Premier League bad boy.
Let the season begin.
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