In a time where diving is becoming increasingly common in the Premier League, hard men in football are quickly becoming extinct species.
Often supporters have to groan and yell during a game after a player goes down with the slightest of touches. Fortunately, the EPL has maintained this breed of player with it's tolerance for brutal 50-50 challenges, and tendency for referees to let the game play on.
Every club has its own hard men, but who makes the top 10 ranking in the league? We looked at Premier League hard men active as of the current season.
The selection of football's hard men takes into account not only physical strength and imposing height, but also an attitude and courage that is necessary to intimidate players of the other team.
The top 10 are as follows:
10. Stephane M'bia | QPR
M'Bia can be a frustrating player for QPR. On a good day, he generally tackles well, anticipates the play well, and keeps the passes simple. On a bad day, he will consistently fly into stupid challenges and almost always complain about being cautioned for rough play.
He has recorded a nice seven yellow cards and one red card this season as he's definitely been doing his part to protect QPR's back four.
Not a great job of it as QPR's league position would say, but the effort and the fight in the man cannot be doubted.
9. Ashley Williams | Swansea City
According to certain red-nosed Scot, this hulk of a defender nearly murdered Robin van Persie on the pitch. The strong Swansea City centre-back is a massive defender dominant in the air and uncompromising in the tackle.
Fantastic performances from drawn attention from the likes of Arsene Wenger who is in need of a defender who not only has the combative nature of the Verminator, but also the positional awareness and passing ability to improve his back-line.
8. Martin Skrtel | Liverpool
Skrtel is the type of player that does not look as large as a Kompany or a Williams, but he still manages to display considerable strength against his opponents. A combination of a snarling demeanour and one too many tattoos gives him the classic hard man image. At his best, Liverpool benefits from his constant hassling and biting tackles.
7. Vincent Kompany | Manchester City
The talisman City captain is a fine example of powerful, relentless defending. Matter of fact, his tackles are so menacing, that he got sent off against Manchester United for nearly tackling Nani. Although not in his finest form as of late, images of Kompany holding of strong target-man is a common and unforgettable image.
6. Ryan Shawcross | Stoke City
The towering 25-year-old has gone from leaving Manchester United for regular football to becoming an England international. He needs no introduction to this ranking as it is common sight to see his gangly legs hack down strikers with ease.
Although perhaps too much of a nice lad to be mentioned along with Vinnie Jones or any of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang, he has broken some legs.
5. Chieck Tiote | Newcastle
The Ivorian's first great season at Newcastle had all of the league's supporters entertained to no end at his constant cautions from referees and an uncanny resemblance to a certain A-team character.
Now somewhat of a cult hero at St. James, Newcastle have missed their very own Mr T this season due to some unlucky injuries. The tenacious defensive midfielder is precisely what the likes of Arsenal and United need in their porous midfields.
4. Sandro | Tottenham Hotspur
Having matured into an effective disrupter of attacking play, Sandro seems unable to rid himself of the aggression that often gets him into hot water with the referees. The thing is, there are certain players that bring the good as well as the bad with their unique traits. Sandro's aggression and determination to win challenges is crucial to his effectiveness as a player.
3. Jonathan Walters | Stoke City
As the only striker to make our list, Jon Walters is a great example of an English-style, battering ram of a frontman. He will often have a goalless match, but his energy and willingness to run at defence makes him a consistent menace to defenders.
One has to respect any player that has played on multiple bleeding heads without so much fuss as a shrug. This type of attitude makes him a refreshing character in a time where players have gone down without contact.
2. John Terry | Chelsea
While missing most of the season, John Terry's inclusion in this list is essential and should not come as a surprise. Chelsea supporters will be the first to agree that while they now have quicker alternatives in Cahill and Luiz, missing JT from the backline is a noticeable absence of personality.
It is hard to forget the sight of John Terry in the 2008 Champions League final where he dove into a clearing header in extra time with a United player's fooot going for the same ball.
1. Nemanja Vidic | Manchester United
Quite simply, just look at the right mess he calls his nose. Vidic will literally do everything to win a header and chooses to ignore the presence of incoming boots and elbows in spaces where he sticks his head.
Where any player would turn the other way, Vidic will dive in. It says everything about a man when he gets more annoyed at having to change his blood-soaked shirt in the middle of the game than what made him bleed in the first place.
Partial, if not full-blown insanity and clear disregard for his own health makes Vidic gets the award as the Premier League's hardest man.
The mere fact that there were many fine candidates for top 10 ranking goes to show how the Premier League still has a plethora of players that are willing to put their bodies on the line for their team. An honourable mention list would be far too long, but it's definitely a shame that Adebayo Akinfenwa plays in the lower leagues.
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