Many pundits, ex and current players describe the Premier League as one of the most physical leagues in Europe. Many players coming over from other leagues often need time to adapt. So, does the physical nature of England’s top flight division mean we see more red cards?
If you go back to the 1980s, you could probably two-foot someone in the chest and would be left feeling hard done by if you were handed a yellow card.
Since then, player protection has become a huge factor in why we see more red cards, and rightfully so. Some fans argue that “proper” tackles aren’t allowed anymore.
On the other hand, since the 2011/12 season the Premier League has averaged 51.3 red cards. This means we are likely to see at least one player sent off every game week. That suggests there is no shortage of physical tackles flying in on a weekly basis.
West Ham’s Mark Noble currently has the most red cards for any active player, receiving five in his 407 league appearances (as of 17th February 2022).
1 – Arsenal (101)
Arsenal have faced a lot of criticism following their 15th red card since Arteta took charge on 26th December 2019. They are now five ahead of Southampton and Brighton in the same period, highlighting an obvious disciplinary issue.
Arsenal became the first club to reach 100 premier league red cards following Gabriel Magalhaes’ sending off against Manchester City on New Years Day.
Martinelli is Arsenal’s latest culprit. He was given two yellow cards in the same passage of play in their 1-0 win over Wolves. Michael Oliver’s rare decision caused a lot of controversy. However, it is hard to argue that Martinelli didn’t committed two bookable offences.
Despite Arsenal’s win over Wolves, going down to 10 men often mean you forfeit your chance of winning a game, so it is a problem that needs addressing from an Arsenal point of view.
It is not a recent problem for Arsenal. Their most red carded players being two who have retired, Patrick Vieria (8) and Martin Keown (6). As for current players, Granit Xhaka is the worst disciplined in the current squad. He has picked up four red cards in the league since he joined in 2016.
So, who joins Arsenal in the top five most ill-disciplined Premier League teams?
2 – Everton (99)
Arsenal only just beat Everton to 100, with Everton sitting on 99 right behind them. One man in particular might be to blame.
Despite being a striker, Dungan Ferguson is the clear culprit for Everton. His record eight in the Premier League is double that of Everton’s David Weir who picked up four.
If you didn’t see Ferguson play, this statistic is enough to tell you how hot headed he could be. Even more shockingly, his headbutt on John McStay in 1994 (albeit while he was playing for Rangers) landed him a three-month prison sentenced and was described as an “on-field assault”.
3 – Newcastle (90)
Newcastle are way out in third place with a total of 90 dismissals. This is despite being relegated in both 2009 and 2016. They have four players who have all been sent off on four occasions: Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, David Batty and Nikos Dabizas.
4 – Chelsea (81)
Chelsea gave us arguably one of the best Premier League centre-backs we have ever seen, John Terry.
Despite his dominance on the pitch and his ability to bully even the top strikers, he ranks as Chelsea’s most red carded player with six sending offs, helping towards Chelsea’s total of 81.
It is fair to say that with 492 Premier League appearances, it’s unsurprising that he had more chance to see red. John Terry is followed by Frank Leboeuf (5) and Dennis wise (4) as Chelsea’s top offenders.
5 – Blackburn Rovers (77)
It might be surprising for readers to learn that Blackburn Rovers are fifth on this list for the most red cards. After all, they were relegated in 2012 and haven’t played a Premier League game since.
You could argue that they would have beaten Arsenal to 100 red cards had they managed to stay in the league! Despite featuring in less games, they have still accumulated and impressive 77 red cards. Jason Wilcox and Kerimoglu Tugay both saw red a record five times for their club.
So, there you have it, the five teams who may want to work on their tackles and temper in training!
QPR break the record for NINE red cards in one season
Another team who certainly deserve a mention are QPR (2011/12) for a record-breaking NINE red cards in a season. The most significant of those being Joey Barton, who saw red in one of the most dramatic Premier League matches ever.
QPR had a 2-1 lead, but after going down to 10 men, Dzeko and Aguero gave Man City their first title in 44 years, clutching it with two goals in the dying minutes.