EPL: The 10 '''Dirtiest'' Players Today
''I'm watching the stupidest Premier League footballer ever, Jeff...he must have papier mache for brains''.
This was an amusing simile from Soccer Saturday reporter Alan McInally during a match in the Premier League at the start of this season in which our subject, Sunderland midfielder and captain Lee Cattemole, was sent off for the FIFTH time in of his fledgling career.
With modern footballers playing at an increasingly high tempo with more money at stake than ever before and a set of rules which threatens to eradicate any element of physical contact within the sport, it would be narrow-minded not to forgive Premier League players the odd mis-timed tackle, unintentionally high elbow or foul-mouthed tirade.
In fact, were the sport to become non-contact and players to be banned from any sort of remonstration or other outpouring of emotion we as armchair fans or road-weary supporters would have to endure a far lesser spectacle.
But there is competitiveness and there is nastiness.
And the two are rightfully distinguishable - thanks to the unsavoury antics of the following ten players, who are named and shamed in the following video slideshow.
As a bonus gift to you, my sadistic readers, I also include a slide documenting some of the nastiest behaviour and injuries from around the globe throughout the course of time...since the camera.
Enjoy the filthfest!
10: Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
As a summary of Ryan Shawcross' playing style, this video is perhaps a fair snapshot, but not in the way you imagine.
On February 27 2010, the Stoke City defender lunged in late to horifically break young Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey's leg, provoking outrage among the Arsenal team and sidelining the young Welshman for nearly a year.
But while the tackle was dangerous and reckless, the intent from the well-built defender was not malicious.
This season, Shawcross has again tried to play the game in the right way but his clumsiness and occasionally reckless tackling in the seven yellow and two red cards he has received playing for the Potters.
9: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
Veni, Vidi, Vidic.
Due to a lack of decent footage of the Hyde side of the split footballing personality that is Serbian man mountain Nemanja Vidic and because of the fact that he has again been integral to Manchester United winning back the Premier League title this year, the above video is more of a tribute than a series of shame frames.
Despite his excellent level of skill and sheer physical presence, there is a clumsier and more cynical side to Vidic's game, which has unusually seen him escape greater punishment than one red card this season.
In fact, he has seven yellow cards and has also committed 35 fouls this season and is often guilty to the well-trained eye of cynical fouls which are unsportsmanlike in nature and come about due to his lack of pace and spatial awareness.
Two of the worst crimes which come to mind were his recent elbows on Manchester City's Edin Dzeko this season and Bolton's Johan Elmander last season.
8: Charlie Adam (Blackpool)
That was the Tottenham Hotspur fans' reaction at the weekend in my local pub when ESPN decided to replay the sickening ankle injury which Gareth Bale suffered against Blackpool in the video above.
Call me opportunistic but please don't doubt that Charlie Adam, admittedly better known for the stellar debut season he is enjoying in his first top-flight season for The Tangerines, is a player who often lets himself down with mis-timed and high tackles.
How else do you explain Sunday's shocking tackle, 11 yellow cards (second worst in the league) and 66 fouls (third worst in the league)?
Great passer of the ball he may, clean and precise play-breaker he certainly is not!
7: Cheik Tiote (Newcastle United)
Newcastle United's Ivory Coast midfielder Cheik Tiote is another footballer who should, despite his flaws, receive more praise than criticism - notably for his outstanding goal in the stunning 4-4 comeback draw against Arsenal and his consistently high level of play in the centre of the pitch this season for the Magpies.
Nevertheless, as this brutal challenge versus Stevenage Town in this year's F.A. Cup (2:05) proves, Tiote sometimes takes the game into his own hands in the wrong way.
In fact, on top of this red card, he has received 14 yellow cards (three more than any other player) and committed 75 fouls (second most) this season.
6: Joey Barton (Newcastle United)
It is so sad that a very gifted often looks like he should be locked away in a prison rather than playing a wonderful sport in front of millions of passionate fans, but that, alas, is the enigma of Newcastle United's Joey Barton.
Seen here punching Blackbrun Rovers' Morten Gamst Pedersen in the chest following an innoncent clash of shoulders, Barton has often seen the red mist and lashed out at opponents.
This season, despite his seven yellow cards and 38 fouls, he is managing his temper and desire in a more professional manner and is actually being targeted by troublesome opponents looking to provoke another outburst of anger.
If he can conquer this issue, he may become an England regular in time.
5: Patrick Vieira (Manchester City)
It is fair to say that Patrick Vieira was never on the Christmas card mailing list of Manchester United's team for the best part of a decade, after the lanky French midfielder became involved in a number of tussles with Gary Neville, Jaap Stam and Roy Keane in particular.
Although he has rarely been guilty of leg-breaking tackles, Vieira always seem to become involved in off-the-ball skirmishes and certainly knows how to wind up his counterparts.
Maturity and restricted playing time has limited him to two yellow cards and 10 fouls this season but, with the most red cards in Premier League history (eight) and more than 75 yellow cards, Vieira has had a major impact on the careers on many match officials plenty.
4: Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)
That this tumultuous video clip is of a fairly recent derby between Middlesbrough and Sunderland is neither here nor there for Lee Cattermole, now a midfielder with the latter.
Pictured assaulting the Mackems' Grant Leaderbitter with an outrageous flying kick, this incident is one of many unsavoury encounters which the youngster has been involved in.
Undoubtedly talented and commendably dedicated to his job, Cattermole, like Barton, needs to find the right channel through which to dispense his energy and enthusiasm.
Having received two red cards (see video clip in introduction slide), 10 yellow cards and committed 35 fouls, it seems Cattermole has a long road of recovery ahead.
3: Nigel De Jong (Manchester City)
The brevity of this video clip and the wonderfully German commentary just serves to highlight the danger that Holland and Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong poses to the Premier League football community.
Admittedly taken from the disgraceful FIFA World Cup final last summer, De Jong has nevertheless, got stuck into life in England's top tier with no little kung-fu.
A ratio of nine yellow cards to 38 fouls this year shows that De Jong really knows how to kick lumps out of his fellow professionals. He has also played some football as well.
2: Kevin Davies (Bolton Wanderers)
Carrying on an age-old tradition of bruising and uncompromising strikers who conveniently forget where the ball is sometimes, Bolton's Kevin Davies is no devil.
But if a boffin at Optima HQ - or wherever it is the Premier League compiles eye-watering amounts of statistics these days - were to create a table of players who have drawn the most blood since the inception of the league two decades ago, Davies would be up there amongst such honourable names as Duncan Ferguson, Kevin Muscat (more to follow on him) and Roy Keane.
With 30 more fouls than any other player this season and nearly 100 cautions in total, the Trotters frontman really does know how to rough up defenders.
In this video, he bleeds another of his unwitting victims dry.
1: Lee Bowyer (Birmingham City)
As the only player to have been booked more than 100 times, Birmingham City's Lee Bowyer is unique.
Whether it is fighting with Newcastle United team-mate Kieron Dyer or having to apologise to a supporter in the stands for verbal abuse or receiving cautions for drug abuse, affray and GBH , the thug from Canning Town is, by general consensus, a nasty piece of work who you would not want to cross on a football field or night out.
This season, he has somewhat ''disappointed'', with only seven yellow cards and 28 fouls.
Perhaps Bowyer has finally met his match in ''The Big 'Eck'', Scottish club manager Alex McCleish...
Any way you look at it, Bowyer really is as dirty as they come!
Kevin Muscat: The Leg Breaker
Aside from scalamunger1's sterling work in compiling some of the most brutal and unsavoury behaviour ever witnessed during professional football matches, the below link to one of the worst assaults you are likely to see in any sport - a tackle during a Melbourne Victory match in the Australian A-League recently -proves that former Wolves player Kevin Muscat is probably the biggest thug to have played in the Premier League.