English Premier League: The Dirtiest Players in the League
Ask any Arsenal fan to name the dirtiest players in the EPL and you will almost instantly get the answer Ryan Shawcross and Joey Barton. Shawcross is universally reviled by the Arsenal faithful for his notorious tackle on Aaron Ramsey in February of 2010, which resulted in a double leg fracture for Ramsey and 18 months of recovery. Barton is commonly known as a thug throughout the league, both for his arrest record and overly aggressive play. Most recently Barton incited a brawl on the opening day of the season by violently pulling Arsenal striker Gervinho up by the collar and getting the Gunner's new boy sent off for retaliation.
There are other names that jump to mind when I think of dirty, reckless and hot-headed footballers, names such as Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Nigel De Jong, Lee Cattermole, Mario Balotelli, Nemanja Vidic and Karl Henry.
While referees often miss overzealous challenges and sometimes allow mistimed tackles to go unpunished, the FA keeps track of the disciplinary record of each EPL team and player. So while some players have picked up bad boy images for off-field indiscretions, out of fairness and objectivity I decided to look at last season’s EPL disciplinary records to see which players truly were the most penalized.
10th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Karl Henry, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Karl Henry of Wolves comes in at number 10. The midfielder picked up eight yellow cards and one highly explosive straight red card for a mistimed tackle on Wigan's Jordi Gomez. Henry was also charged with 53 fouls.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy has often defended Henry's disciplinary record in the past. However, prior to the start of this season he stripped Henry of the captaincy of the team, opting for former Birmingham centre-back Roger Johnson.
9th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Kevin Davies, Bolton Wanderers
Bolton captain and striker Kevin Davies comes in at number nine. Highly regarded for his physical style of play, Davies has committed the most fouls of any player in the history of the Premier League. In fact, for three straight seasons between 2004-2007, Davies was top of the table in the number of fouls committed.
Last season he accumulated ten yellow cards without any reds, however, he did pick up a league leading 115 fouls.
Davies has endeared himself to Bolton fans by stating his desire to remain with the team for the rest of his career, and by embracing the local community. He recently launched his own charity, Kids of Bolton, which is aimed at helping local children develop new skills.
8th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Kevin Nolan, Newcastle United
Kevin Nolan, currently captain of Championship side West Ham United, was Newcastle's captain and leading goal scorer last season. The attacking midfielder slotted home 12 times for the Magpies, but also picked up 10 yellow cards while committing 37 fouls.
In moving to West Ham, Nolan rejoins his former Bolton manager Sam Allardyce with hopes of helping West Ham bounce back to the Premiership after being relegated. Nolan has experienced this before as he was relegated with Newcastle and then helped the team bounce back to the EPL in the next season.
7th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Michel Salgado, Blackburn Rovers
Spanish defender Michel Salgado is known for his combative style and aggressive nature. That being the case he generally picks up a good number of cautions and cards.
A one time Real Madrid player, Salgado received ten yellow cards last season and was responsible for 39 fouls.
6th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Craig Gardner, Birmingham City
Central midfielder Gardner was Birmingham City's top scorer last season with eight goals, but was also the relegated team's most penalized player. In addition to six yellow cards, Gardner saw red twice including one for a dive against Wolves in a late season relegation battle. Gardner picked up 44 fouls as well.
Gardner was relegated with Birmingham City, but is back in the top flight this season having signed a contract with Sunderland.
5th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City
Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross has earned himself a reputation as a rather dirty player. In 2007 Francis Jeffers of Sheffield Wednesday spent three months recovering from ligament damage incurred on a Shawcross challenge. In 2008, a Shawcross tackle on Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor left the player sidelined for three weeks. Then in February 2010, Shawcross attempted a tackle on Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey which resulted in a horrific injury. Ramsey was out of action for 18 months with a broken tibia and fibula due to the incident.
Last season, Shawcross received seven yellow cards and two reds while committing 39 fouls. Shawcross has started the new season in familiar fashion sharing the top spot for fouls with Kevin Davies of Bolton and Grant Holt of Norwich.
4th Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Maynor Figueroa, Wigan
The Honduran left-back Maynor Figueroa is best known by Latic fans for several important offensive plays rather than for particularly dirty tactics. During the 2009-2010 season Figueroa's goal against Stoke City was chosen as Match of the Day's Goal of the Season.
Facing relegation on the last day of the 2010-2011 season, Figueroa set up Hugo Rodallega who scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Stoke. Wigan retained their Premier League status.
Despite his eye for goal, Figueroa lands on the top ten list having picked up 11 yellow cards and 39 fouls last season.
3rd Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Charlie Adam, Blackpool
The fiery Scottish midfielder Charlie Adam was an integral part of the Blackpool squad that secured promotion from the Championship to the top flight following a playoff win over Cardiff in 2009-2010.
Blackpool played attacking football and Charlie Adam was a big part of the promoted side that took the Premiership by storm early in the 2010-2011 season. Adam was one of seven nominees for the PFA Player of the Year award despite Blackpool's eventual relegation on the last day of the campaign.
Adam scored 12 times for Blackpool last season, but was also the recipient of 11 yellow cards while committing 68 fouls.
Adam secured a transfer to Liverpool for the start of the 2011-2012 season.
2nd Most Cautioned Player 2010-2011: Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea
The Serbian defender has been a part of Chelsea's back line for several seasons now and has proven a dependable force.
Ivanovic secured a place in the heart of Chelsea supporters when he scored two goals from corners against Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of the 2008-2009 Champions League quarter-final match. Chelsea eventually went on to win 7-5 on aggregate.
Patrolling Chelsea's back line, Ivanovic was cautioned 12 times and charged with a total of 53 fouls last season.
Nuber One Most Cautioned Player 2010-2010: Cheick Tiote, Newcastle United
Surprisingly it's not Joey Barton that tops the list of the most disciplined EPL players last season. Instead, it's his Ivorian teammate, midfielder Cheick Tiote that gets the honor.
During his first season in the EPL, Tiote became an important part of the Newcastle starting eleven.
In a third round FA Cup tie against Stevenage, Tiote was shown a straight red card for a lunging tackle and was given a three match ban.
Additionally, Tiote picked up a league leading 14 yellow cards while committing 75 fouls.