The Premier League’s dirtiest players this season - including Liverpool, Aston Villa and Newcastle stars

The ten most card-happy and foul-friendly players in the Premier League this season, including an astonishing number of Brazilians.
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We’re very much in the thick of the end of season awards… er, season… but while Pep Guardiola picks up his Manager of the Year Award and Erling Haaland vacuums up all the player awards like the Skynet-designed follow-up to Henry the Hoover, we noticed that one award was missing.

Because as much as we all appreciate watching tactically-nuanced, technically sublime football, we also like watching players kick giant lumps out of each other in the name of acquiring a slight advantage for their team – and with that in mind, we’ve got the calculators out and worked out who the very dirtiest, most foul-happy player in the Premier League was this past season. In fact, we figured out the whole top ten.

We’ve taken the league’s largely redundant Fair Play system – which awards one point for a booking, three for a second yellow card and five for a red – and slightly arbitrarily stuck on half a point for every foul a player committed, to really make sure that all those niggly little bits of you-know-what-housery are accounted for…

10. Jeffrey Schlupp – Crystal Palace

51 fouls, 7 yellow cards – 32.5 points

The flying Dutchman is one of the quicker and harder-working players in the Premier League, forever legging it from one end of the field to the other. Perhaps he does it for the team, but on this evidence, he mostly does it so he can go and kick someone. A lesson, perhaps, that while pace and defensive rigour are a fine thing, you still need to be able to time a tackle.

=7. Douglas Luiz – Aston Villa

48 fouls, 6 yellow cards, 1 straight red card – 35 points

The combative midfielder is seldom short of a tackle, and picked up a few extra points when he celebrated signing a new long-term contract at Villa Park by shoving his face into Aleksandar Mitrović’s in one of those half-hearted “headbutts” so beloved of Premier League players who want to express their anger in a way which hopefully won’t earn more than a yellow card. Not the brightest moment of the Brazilian’s career.

=7. Ivan Toney – Brentford

52 fouls, 9 yellow cards – 35 points

Brentford’s main man managed to panic an awful lot of Fantasy Premier League managers when he spent several games teetering on the brink of a two-match suspension for a tenth yellow card – but he managed to swerve that particular punishment, only to walk right into his eight-month ban for gambling infractions. Unlikely to feature on this list next year, let’s say.

=7. Kai Havertz – Chelsea

60 fouls, 5 yellow cards – 35 points

Only two players in the entire league committed more fouls than Havertz this season, which suggests that the makeshift German centre-forward is no better at timing a tackle than he is at sticking the ball in the back of the net. 60 fouls is even more remarkable when you consider that, according to FBRef, he’s only attempted 44 tackles. Maybe referees have just been booking him for his finishing and we haven’t realised.

6. Fabinho – Liverpool

53 fouls, 11 yellow cards – 37.5 points

It’s not been the easiest season for Liverpool’s usually-reliable midfield powerhouse, and he’s spent more time in the referee’s book than he has doing a passable impression of the player he was in 2019. 11 yellows is comfortably the most bookings he’s received in a league season for Liverpool, which probably underpins the point that he hasn’t been quite himself of late.

5. João Palhinha – Fulham

48 fouls, 14 yellow cards – 38 points

A booking magnet of the first order, largely because he’s both the type of player who point-blank refuses to shirk a tackle and the kind of guy who will cover every blade of grass twice per game if he can. Not actually a dirty player, per se, more the kind of player who will attempt every tackle that presents itself regardless of the immediate wisdom of doing so.

4. Nélson Semedo – Wolverhampton Wanderers

47 fouls, 11 yellow cards, 1 straight red card – 39.5 points

Funny old player, Semedo – every now and again you’ll see flashes of the man who was good enough to get first-team football at Barcelona, but you’re at least as likely to catch him desperately fouling his man as he flails about in an attempt to regain possession. No finer example of the latter could be found than his red card against Brighton, for what can only be described as a literal rugby tackle on Kaoru Mitoma after the Japanese winger dribbled past him on the edge of the area.

3. Casemiro – Manchester United

48 fouls, 7 yellow cards, 2 straight red cards – 41 points

Let’s be honest, we all thought Casemiro would be top, didn’t we? The only player to be sent off twice this season, and the image of him throttling Will Hughes like Homer Simpson attempting some home discipline on Bart did rather stick in the memory. But then, if you’re going to serve two lengthy suspensions for straight reds, then that also reduces the number of fouls you’re physically able to commit in the remaining time, so the Brazilian falls short of the very filthiest players in the league. Probably the player most in need of some anger management classes, mind you.

2. Moisés Caicedo – Brighton & Hove Albion

65 fouls, 10 yellow cards – 42.5 points

The all-action Ecuadorian may not have seen red at any point this season, but his habit of trying to be everywhere all at once, and of trying to bully whoever happens to be there when he arrives – usually successfully, in fairness - means that he racked up the joint-highest foul count in the league over the course of the campaign. In a world where we added bonus points for attempting to choke the opposition out, he probably wouldn’t be ahead of Casemiro, but raw mathematics apparently determines that he is, in fact, a seriously dirty player.

1. Joelinton – Newcastle United

65 fouls, 12 yellow cards – 44.5 points

Here we are then, the dirtiest player in the Premier League this season. Perhaps Joelinton’s aggressive streak can be put down to latent resentment over being repurposed from the striker he once wanted to be, or perhaps he’s just making up for his early struggles at St. James’ Park by making sure he’s the first man to every ball (or shin) he can find. The crowd love him for it, anyway, and rightly so, but the midfielder’s colossal foul count is coupled with receiving the second-most bookings in the campaign, second only to Palhinha. Who knew the Brazilians were so dirty? Jogo bonito, my backside. They’re kicking lumps out of each other on the Copacabana.

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