Who are the 4 dirtiest players currently active in England’s Top Flight? Given the very unpredictable quality of referring that has been seen at the halfway point of the 2017/2018 season, it’s a tricky one to really gauge. Some would assume that being a dirty player is just a matter of making dangerous tackles.
Others may think it’d be more about gamesmanship or going down easily under a challenge. Either way, the days of the classic football ‘hardman’ has certainly evolved over the last decade or so. Think back to the days of Roy Keane or David Batty – it’s difficult to imagine either of them lasting 90 minutes nowadays.
That being said, it’s interesting to see that ‘dirty’ players still have a clearly important role in their team’s performance and results. In no particular order, let’s take a look at four standout contenders.
Andy Carrol (Striker, West Ham Utd)
If ever there’s a player who is the epitome of ‘impact’ it has to be the big Geordie lad forcing his way back into West Ham’s first team plans. Despite a terrible record of injuries that have dogged his career, he’s still incredibly gifted when he has been available to play. Some pundits are far too quick to see him as a target man, and neglect the fact that he’s also an expert at holding up the play as well as hitting the ball from distance. However – he has 5 yellow cards and one red so far this season. Despite his talents, for a struggling team that may seem to be a little too much of a liability.
Jonjo Shelvey (Midfielder, Newcastle United)
Rafa Benitez isn’t a man to suffer fools gladly, but his patience with Shelvey is clearly hanging by threads. While there’s no question that the former Liverpool and Swansea man is a mercurial talent, his indiscipline in the tackle has verged on the bewildering this season. Despite an excellent performance in the Toon Army’s promotion campaign last season, and attracting plenty of praise for losing weight and getting fitter preseason, he’s often a liability. Two reds and two yellows have left an underpowered Newcastle missing their key attacking midfielder to suspension far too frequently.
Simon Francis (Defender, Bournemouth)
Despite being a Yorkshireman by birth, Francis has spent most of his career playing for southern teams. Since joining Bournemouth in 2012, he’s accrued 236 appearances over five years – making him quite rightly a club legend for his contribution to league promotion and staving off relegation prospects. That being said, the veteran player still clearly remembers how to ‘mix it up’ from those formative years in the lower leagues. Five yellow cards and one red suggest that unless he’s careful, there may be some unwanted suspension issues coming up when the season comes towards the close.
David Luiz (Defender, Chelsea)
By points, the Brazilian isn’t that dirty a player. Only three yellows and a solitary red so far this season, but it must beg the question of why his manager seems to have just discarded him? Remember that this player was the most valuable defender in the world not that long ago (based on transfer fees), so why has he been warming the bench recently? Quite possibly the answer to this stems from his managers playing career.
Conte had no time for defensive liabilities. Back in his Juventus days, he would often spend more time looking towards his own goal and marshalling the defensive line than looking for the ball. The casual rashness and sheer unpredictability of his tackling make Luiz a liability, even though he has a knack for getting away with it more often than not.