Few sports are as tribal as football and with so much at stake in the Premier League, tensions often run high. Having a competitive streak is a fundamental skill for any elite level footballer however, on occasion tempers can spill over and players are sent off. With the Premier League having been England’s top division for nearly 30 years, there have been plenty of bad boys to have graced the league.
Manchester United played some incredible football during their spell of complete dominance within English football and few players were more central to that than Paul Scholes. Whilst the diminutive midfielder rightfully picked up the plaudits, he was notorious for his unwavering attitude towards winning and his relatively poor tackling ability.
A player that very rarely lost a midfield battle, Scholes picked up 97 yellow cards in the Premier League and was sent off on 4 occasions.
Burly striker Kevin Davies relished the physical aspect of the game and his 76 goals for Southampton, Blackburn, and Bolton in the top flight were testament to his skill level. He was a thorn in the side of defenders and his performances also saw him capped by England in 2010. His disciplinary record was also as consistent.
Davies picked up 100 cards in over 350 Premier League appearances and he often got into scraps with the opposition, the ultimate team player.
Central midfielders are always in the heart of the action, but few players enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the middle of the park more than Lee Bowyer. After coming through the ranks at Charlton, Bowyer made his name at Leeds before moving on to Newcastle, West Ham and Birmingham City.
With over 50 Premier League goals to his name and an England cap too, Bowyer was well respected in the division, but his temper could often boil over – making him tough to play against.
Few players epitomised fighting spirit more than Wayne Rooney. Having burst on to the scene at Everton, Rooney became England’s all-time leading scorer and netted over 200 Premier League goals for the Toffees and Manchester United.
Controversy always followed Rooney however and his short fuse saw him embroiled in plenty of tussles on the field. However, his 5 Premier League titles are testament to just how influential he was during his time at Old Trafford.
As the top Premier League appearance maker of all time, it is perhaps no surprise to see Gareth Barry at the top of the list. With 653 Premier League appearances under his belt, Barry always looked to make his mark in midfield and his tally of 127 cards are representative of that.
He was an integral part of the Manchester City side that won the Premier League in 2012 and his 53 England caps underline his playing abilities at the very top level.