Footballer players around the world all have different characteristics and play the game in a diverse manner. Some players have more brain than brawn, others are very skillful and possess a lot of flair. Conversely, several players (with the trades mentioned) also love to get stuck in and play the game rough.
This article lists my personal top 10 ‘dirtiest’ players in the Premier League. It wasn’t easy to decide, but after much deliberation, these are the players who made my official list, enjoy:
10. Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
If a tackle is named after you then surely you must be doing something wrong, right? The 35-year-old veteran midfielder looks as if he will never learn how to tackle properly. Scholes may appear to some that he is not a dirty player, and may use the excuse of ‘Scholes doesn’t know how to tackle’, but let me assure you, this is absolute garbage. The fact is, he goes in late on players for a reason and has continued this trade for 16 years now. Even at 35, the Manchester United man is still fairly in the mix. Last season the Englishman committed 30 fouls, which led to 9 yellow cards and a red one as well. You would think after 16 years of trying he would have given up on tackling.
9. John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)
As a defensive midfielder for Premier League champions Chelsea, Mikel’s job is to break up attacks and regain possession by any means necessary. Unfortunately, the 23-year-old cannot tackle with precision and as such gives many free-kicks away. His overall intent in going in for a challenge is bad as well. Having watched several games in which the Nigerian had featured in last season, it is clear to see that he loves to go in hard on opposing players even though he doesn’t need to. Mikel gave away 35 free-kicks and picked up 3 yellow cards last season, ok it may not appear bad, but it’s evident that the player does have bad intentions in his mind. His 4 year disciplinary record at Chelsea can vouch for this.
8. Craig Bellamy (Manchester City)
Craig Bellamy has a great level of passion and desire for the game, which again is commendable, but like Stephen Hunt, the winger can boil over. The Manchester City man is known for his fiery temper and as such can (and most of the time) be a dirty player if he wants to be. The 30-year-old may have not committed as much fouls (24) and received as much coloured cards (5 yellow, 1 red) as the other players on this list, but whenever Bellamy is tackled or goes flying into one, it is clear that the Welshman is a nutcase. A number of fans may be divided of Bellamy’s inclusion in this article, arguing the fact that he is more of a zealous than a dirty player. This maybe the case, however, Bellamy has lost his mind at times last season and the City man always likes to involve himself in feuds on the pitch as well.
7. Wilson Palacios (Tottenham)
Palacios is a hardworking player, but he does get a few tackles wrong and is considered a midfield hacker by many Premier League fans. The Spurs man committed 58 fouls last season and picked up 8 yellow cards along the way as well. Palacios has cut down these statistics from 2 years ago and credit to him, but the Honduran international is still very much a fouler and a prolific one in the Premier League.
6. Stephen Hunt (Wolves)
The Former Hull City (now of Wolves) has got to be in this list, if he weren’t then there would have been an outrage from many readers who didn’t see his name up. Stephen Hunt is one of the slyest players in the Premier League, he may appear innocent to many when going into a challenge, but deep down a number of fans know what the Irishman is up to. It’s good to see a level of determination, but sometimes it can boil over and eventually it will come out in a different form, this is what has happened to Hunt over the years. Who could forget the 28-year-olds collision with Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech at Stamford Bridge several of years ago, many still wonder to this day if the clash was intentional or not. Nevertheless, Hunt is a dirty player end of.
5. Fabrice Muamba (Bolton)
Although, the Bolton man did not receive a red card, Fabrice Muamba was statistically the most booked Premier League player last season. The 22-year-old defensive midfielder committed 63 fouls last season and received 11 yellow cards a long the way. Bolton are not known for their flair and attractive style of football in the Premier League, but more for their rough and tumble method which see most of their players commit a lot of tackles and Muamba is just one of them. The Englishman is not a ‘leg-breaking’ player, far from it, but with these statistics and the current holder of the yellow card holder, it is evident that the midfielder had to be apart of this list.
4. Michael Ballack (Chelsea)
A great player but Ballack simply doesn’t know how to tackle and win a ball cleanly in the process. The German international is a strong midfielder and does a good job for Chelsea, but he does manage to give a lot of free-kicks away. 50 fouls, 3 yellow cards, 1 red card, may not look as bad as others in this article, although, whenever Ballack is live on TV it is almost certain during the 90 minute match, that you will see the 33-year-old either be in conversation with the referee or standing by an opposing player who is on the floor.
3. Javier Mascherano (Liverpool)
The Liverpool midfielder spends more time bringing down opponents than actually kicking a ball. He is a hardworking player but at times his raw emotion does get the better of him.
The 26-year-old Argentinean international was the third highest player in the list of committing fouls last season (he committed 66 in all). With those 10 fouls came 10 yellow cards and 2 red ones as well. It’s great to see the Argentine commit a foul (not a bad one of course) just for his pure reaction when the whistle is blown. Mascherano somehow feels that when he does bring down a player in a bad manner, loves to think there is nothing wrong with it, and as such, pleads his innocence to the referee…very entertaining to watch. A defintate ‘dirty’ player in the English game (his record speaks for itself), and if he were to leave the Premier League this summer, his antics will be certainly be missed by many of the fans, including me.
2. Kevin Davies (Bolton)
Would anyone disagree with his enrolment into this list? Certainly not. The Bolton striker committed an astonishing 103 fouls in 38 games last season and holds the record of the dirtiest player in the English game…well done Kevin. The 33-year-old Englishman is known for his strength up front and loves to irritate and punish his opposing defenders by any means necessary. Davies picked up 9 yellow cards and surprisingly no reds in the process. However, for the sheer fact that he has committed so many fouls and his inability to actually play the game right earns him a place in this hall of fame.
1. Joey Barton (Newcastle United)
The prodigal son returns to the Premier League this season to recapture his crown as the official dirtiest player in the English game. Many would agree that the 27-year-old midfielder is one of the dirtiest, ruthless, and most vicious players that the Premier League has ever seen in recent times. Joey Barton will no doubt be contributing in more fouls, yellow and red cards rather than goals and assists. He has got to be my number one on this list.
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