Here is a breakdown of the 10 players to have committed the most fouls during the 2012/13 Premier League season as of 11 April 2013:
10. Craig Gardner (Sunderland) – 48 fouls – 57 minutes per foul – 10 yellow cards
The Sunderland central midfielder has collected the most yellow cards in the Premier League this season and is about to start a two-match ban following his tenth last weekend. He can count himself lucky to have only seen yellow for a vicious foul on Chelsea’s Demba Ba.
Craig Gardner had never picked up more than 5 yellow cards in a single Premier League season prior to this one, although he had received 3 red cards over the two previous seasons.
9. Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland) – 49 fouls – 51 minutes per foul – 5 yellow cards
Sunderland’s second entry on this list is another of their central midfielders. Previously a right midfielder whom has played their on half a dozen occasions this season, the Swede has picked up 5 yellow cards playing in the centre of midfield and only has 1 goal this season (compared to 7 last season and 21 in the previous four seasons combined).
Sebastian Larsson hasn’t been as effective playing in the middle, although most of the Black Cats have underperformed this season. For the combination of Larsson and Gardner’s fouls, Sunderland are one of three teams yet to receive a red card so far this season.
8. Papiss Cisse (Newcastle United) – 49 fouls – 50 minutes per foul – 5 yellow cards
The Newcastle United striker hasn’t kept himself out of trouble. Papiss Cisse has committed 49 fouls this season battling for the ball up front. These fouls do not include all of his offsides, or all the times he has been flagged offside regardless of how many defenders have been in front of him.
For all the fouls he has committed, Cisse has top scored for the Magpies this season with 8 Premier League goals. He netted 13 following his January arrival last season in half the time he’s been on the pitch this season.
7. Steve Sidwell (Fulham) – 55 fouls – 38 minutes per foul – 7 yellow cards/1 red card
One of the few Englishman in the Fulham squad, Steve Sidwell is the only player in the top ten to have received a red card this season. The one-time Jose Mourinho signing was sent off for a lunge on Armand Traore in a 3-2 win over Queens Park Rangers recently.
Steve Sidwell had a bright start to the season netting four goals before Christmas. He hasn’t scored yet but continues to break up the opposition play in the centre of the Cottagers midfield, whether that by winning possession or committing a foul.
6. Bradley Johnson (Norwich City) – 55 fouls – 50 minutes per foul – 8 yellow cards
Involved in a incident that saw Joey Barton receive a red card last season, Bradley Johnson has made his fare share of aggressive tackles this season. The Norwich City midfielder has been the recipient of 8 yellow cards this season – amongst the most in the league.
For all of his foul play, Bradley Johnson still only ranks number two on Norwich City’s list of fouls this season.
5. Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) 58 fouls – 48 minutes per foul – 8 yellow cards
The Southampton midfielder has received his praise for leading the lead in interceptions in recent weeks and scoring a couple of goals from deep in midfield with some well-timed runs into the penalty area. But the French midfielder does commit more than his fair share of fouls. 58 in all this season – only four players have conceded more this season.
Averaging almost 2 fouls a game, Morgan Schneiderlin also averages two yellow card every four games. Two more before the season is out and he’ll be absent for consecutive games through suspension. Southampton have enough time to confirm their Premier League status before then.
4. Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) – 59 fouls – 41 minutes per foul – 6 yellow cards
The Belgian striker has made a huge impact during his first season with Aston Villa. Having scored 43% of his team’s goals this season and attracting interest from other clubs. The big central figure up front for Paul Lambert’s side has committed a number of fouls when competing for the ball this season and in turn picked up 6 yellow cards.
Christian Benteke has been flagged offside more times than any other player in the Premier League this season. That aside, he’s been a great acquisition in his first season for relegation fighting Aston Villa.
3. Mikel Arteta (Arsenal) – 64 fouls – 38 minutes per foul – 4 yellow cards
The Spaniard in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield may have committed the third highest number of fouls in the Premier League this season, but Mikel Arteta has received the fewest yellow cards of any in the top ten. The creative midfielder has been playing a deep role in front of his back four for Arsene Wenger’s side, often playing short passes when in possession.
When defending, Arteta’s lack of tacking ability often concedes a foul more than anything vicious or unsporting.
2. Marouane Fellaini (Everton) – 67 fouls – 32 minutes per foul – 7 yellow cards
Everton’s big Belgian midfielder has seen his goals dry up since 1 December – only 3threesince then of which two came against Aston Villa. 11 Premier League goals in all this season has seen Marouane Fellaini linked with a move to the likes of Chelsea. I still have my doubts over the clumsy target man being a success for a top four side. I also struggle to see where he would fit in any of the current top sides. I guess there’s a case for him playing behind the striker at Tottenham, but Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United? I’m not so sure.
Has been close to the top of these lists ever since David Moyes brought him to England from Standard Liege. Despite questioning his ability to be a success at a top four side, he’s still an asset to Everton.
1. Grant Holt (Norwich City) – 70 fouls – 29 minutes per foul – 7 yellow cards
The Norwich City target man wants to become the new Kevin Davies is topping the fouls chart season after season in the Premier League. Grant Holt did just that last season and is on course to do so this season. Provided he plays enough games for the rest of the season having not started any of the Canaries’ last thre with Kei Kamara being favoured by Chris Hughton.
Likes a tussle with the defenders and throwing his frame around, Grant Holt is a nuisance to opposition players and not very popular with opposing fans.