This Premier League season has been one of the most exciting in years. The title race is still to be decided between three teams and, as always, the battle to stay in the league is even more intense at the bottom. There have been instances of exhilarating football and some superb goals have been scored almost on a weekly basis. While most fans notice the artistry and skill on display every week, there are also instances of dirty play. In their desire to stop opponents from scoring or playing good football, defenders and midfielders have often resorted to tactics outside of the rule book. For the purposes of this article, dirty players were identified not just by the amount of fouls they commit or the amount of cards they receive. Fouling is part of the game and may be used to stop teams but may not necessarily be aimed at hurting an opposing player. This article focuses on players who cynically foul their contemporaries and exhibit minimal regard for their safety on the field. The list is subjective, but it is hard to argue that the players on this list have not been dirty this season.
This article lists ten Premier League players who have resorted to various dirty tactics in their games. This list is not just limited to defenders or defensive minded midfielders. Some attacking players and even one striker makes the list. Some of these players do not have the reputation of being dirty because they do not foul much or accumulate a lot of yellow cards. But when they do foul, they often lash out and their challenges have the potential to seriously harm their opponents.
10 Robin Van Persie - Manchester United
9 Cheick Tiote - Newcastle United
8 Rafael - Manchester United
7 Charlie Adam - Stoke City
6 Mathieu Flamini - Arsenal
5 Wes Brown - Sunderland
4 Lee Cattermole - Sunderland
3 Ramires - Chelsea
2 Kevin Nolan - West Ham United
1 Marouane Fellaini - Manchester United
Marouane Fellaini is proof that using just the number of fouls or cards a player accumulates is not necessarily the best way to determine if they are a dirty player. Fellaini has only received one yellow card in 14 league games this season. But ask anyone to list the dirtiest players in the league and Fellaini would probably be a unanimous selection to the list. It is a minor miracle that the Belgian midfielder has not been sent off this season. Recently, in matches against Manchester City and Newcastle United, Fellaini did his best to get sent off when he used his elbows in a similar fashion to a MMA fighter. Against City, Fellaini attacked the onrushing Pablo Zabeleta with his elbow and miraculously stayed on the field. This facet of Fellaini's game has persisted throughout his career and does not seem to be changing. What is disturbing is that Fellaini seems to believe that some of his most violent actions on the field are not fouls.
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