The Premier League's 'scoundrels of the season' so far – featuring Chelsea & Newcastle stars

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A rundown of the dirtiest players in the Premier League in 2023/24 with Chelsea, Newcastle and Spurs players among the worst offenders.

In theory, our favourite players should be the most skilful, elegant and graceful, or simply the ones who score the most goals. In practice, many of us just love those who throw technique in the bin and simply get stuck in as hard and as often as possible.

If you fall into that camp, then this is a list of the ten – well, eleven – players that you probably enjoy watching the most. We’ve dug through the stats for fouls and cards to find out who the very dirtiest and most foul-happy players in the Premier League are.

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Using a scientific-ish method of assigning five points for a red card, two for a yellow and half a point for a foul, we’ve compiled the top ten filthiest players in the English top flight. It ends up being eleven because two players come in joint tenth, but let’s not nitpick here.

Before we get our countdown going, a special mention should be made for Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie, who somehow avoids this list despite being one of just two players to be sent off twice this season. He’s only actually committed a grand total of 12 fouls, three of which ended up with a card being flashed in his face. Presumably his total tackles are so low because he knows he isn’t very good at them. Anyway…

=10. Dejan Kulusevski & Yves Bissouma – Tottenham Hotspur (30.5 points)

Two Spurs players start us off. Bissouma could easily be higher, given that he’s the other player to be sent off twice, but between suspensions and time off for the Africa Cup of Nations, he hasn’t had as much time as others to get stuck into some opposing shins. Sweden winger Kulusevski has committed numerous fouls – 37 makes him the joint-second ‘fouliest’ player on our list – but a relatively tame six bookings means he doesn’t fly too high up our ranking.

9. Jordan Ayew – Crystal Palace (31.5 points)

On the one hand, Ayew is a little unlucky to find himself here – the Ghana forward was shown a harsh red card for two bookable offences against Liverpool, and that may be the softest dismissal we’ll mention. That said, he’s also committed a ridiculous 37 fouls, so he’s not exactly shy of throwing himself about the place.

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=7. Rodri – Manchester City (32.5 points)

The Spaniard may be one of the finest midfielders in the league, but he’s also one of the dirtiest. Pep Guardiola angrily told him to “control himself” after picking up one of the daftest red cards of the season – as you may recall, he lost his rag with Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White and began throttling him before remembering, slightly too late, that he was on a football pitch, where such actions are against the rules. Given that he’s picked up seven bookings elsewhere, he clearly hasn’t taken Guardiola’s words to heart.

=7. Christian Nørgaard – Brentford (32.5 points)

Combative Danish midfielder Nørgaard hasn’t been sent off this season but his eight yellow cards puts him joint second of that particular table and he’s also committed a whopping 33 fouls overall. To be fair, it’s not really reasonable to describe him as a dirty player, rather one who has never knowingly stopped pressing or trying to win back possession. The kind of player who probably body-checks the postman when he delivers the mail in the morning.

6. Destiny Udogie – Tottenham Hotspur (33.5 points)

The young Italian defender is a massive talent but does occasionally betray his inexperience with a poorly-judged tackle, as five yellows and a red suggest. He was one of two players sent off for Spurs against Chelsea back in November, and while some felt the second yellow was harsh, he was lucky not to be shown a straight red earlier for a good old-fashioned two-footer on Raheem Sterling in the first half. Another member of the surprisingly populous 37 foul club. Spurs, incidentally, have committed 335 fouls in total – by some way the most in the division.

5. Bruno Guimarães – Newcastle United (34 points)

No shocks here – the hyper-combative midfielder hasn’t seen red yet this season, which is mildly surprising given his track record, but has picked up nine whole bookings, more than anyone else in the entire division. He’s also been responsible for 32 fouls, many of which probably caused significant pain to the unlucky victims. Not a midfielder you mess with, certainly.

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4. João Palhinha – Fulham (34.5 points)

Another Portuguese-speaking midfielder who loves a tough tackle and its accompanying booking, the dynamic Fulham midfielder has also had his name taken nine times (Darwin Núñez being the only other player to find himself cautioned as many times) but edges fractionally ahead of Bruno by virtue of committing one single, solitary foul more. The nine-yellow club, by the way, have to get to 32 games played without being booked again if they want to dodge a two-game suspension. Unlikely.

3. Mario Lemina – Wolverhampton Wanderers (35.5 points)

Eight yellows and a red so far for the Wolves midfielder, who was given his marching orders deep in injury time against Aston Villa when he collected a second yellow for a cynical challenge as he tried to stop a dangerous counter-attack. His 29 total fouls tally pales in significance compared to some, but it does mean he has an impressively bad ratio of fouls which give the referee no option but to do something…

2. Boubacar Kamara – Aston Villa (36.5 points)

Sadly, Kamara has recently suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and many not play again in 2024. That’s awful news for the player and for his club, but probably a relief for the shins and ankles of everyone else in the Premier League. 35 fouls and seven yellows is a testament to his tough tackling nature, but his red – in December against Brentford – is the only real contender for Rodri’s crown of Stupidest Sending-Off. Having tried to play peacemaker in a typically childish late brawl, he lost his rag with Yegor Yarmolyuk and shoved him in the face right in front of the referee. Daft.

1. Conor Gallagher – Chelsea (39 points)

England and Chelsea man Gallagher was sent off against Brighton after a rash challenge when he was already on a yellow card, but that isn’t the real reason he tops the table so comfortably – he’s been responsible for a league-high 52 fouls, a massive 14 more than any other player in the top flight. That’s a frankly ridiculous number of late challenges, body checks and shirt tugs, but the real miracle is that he’s only received five cards in total from all those fouls. He clearly knows how to win over a referee when they’re deciding upon a punishment – but that doesn’t stop him from being our official-ish dirtiest player in the Premier League.

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