Every team has a midfield enforcer, or a defensive hacker in their ranks, and this season has shown just that with a grand total of almost 1,200 cards being dished out.
Here we take a look at the league’s most ill-disciplined XI using a points system - each red card counts for five points, each yellow card counts for one point, and two yellows in a game count for three points - with statistics taken from Transfermarkt.
Goalkeeper: Mark Bunn | Norwich City | Points: 7 (2 yellows and 1 red)
The Norwich 'keeper only played in 23 games this season, but still makes this XI. He earned his solitary red card for a blatant handball outside of his area away at Sunderland. Norwich had the audacity to launch an appeal, which was swiftly rejected by the FA.
Right-back: Rafael | Manchester United | Points: 11 (6 yellows and 1 red)
The Brazilian has really grown into his role for this season’s champions, but that comes at a price: from 28 games a return of 6 yellows and one red may not be quite Paul Scholes-esque, but it is enough for him to make the XI.
Centre-back: Maynor Figueroa | Wigan Athletic | Points: 11 (6 yellows and 1 red)
The Honduras international is renowned for his thunderous long-range shots, but perhaps he deserves a reputation for his card count too. Having said that, his only red card against Newcastle was harsh so maybe we should give him a break.
Centre-back: Ciaran Clark | Aston Villa | Points: 11 (6 yellows and 1 red)
As a member of Villa’s young and once relegation threatened outfit, Clark may have had to sacrifice his own record for the greater good of the team on occasions. However, a record of just 357 minutes per card is impressive, nonetheless.
Left-back: Danny Fox | Southampton | Points: 8 (3 yellows and 1 red)
Dare I say it, as a Scot, flying into some crunching tackles may come naturally to Fox, and despite losing his place to young protégé Luke Shaw for large parts of the season, he still makes the team from just 20 matches including a dismissal for his horror-tackle on West Brom’s Steven Reid.
Right-wing: Craig Gardner | Sunderland | Points: 15 (10 yellows and 1 red)
The versatile Englishman has always had a crunching challenge in his locker, and he didn’t hold back this season. He even took to Twitter to apologise for his foul lunge on Stoke City's Charlie Adam, which earned him his only red of the campaign.
Centre-midfielder: Steve Sidwell (captain) | Fulham | Points: 17 (7 yellows and 2 reds)
The former Chelsea player captains the side courtesy of his impressive total of points. Sidwell picked up two red cards in consecutive matches after being dismissed during Fulham’s game against QPR, only to be sent for an early shower again in his next game after suspension against Arsenal.
Centre-midfielder: Steven N’Zonzi | Stoke City | Points: 14 (9 yellow cards and 1 red)
Stoke’s giant midfielder flies the flag for the Potters - surprisingly as their first representative in the XI. His alleged stamp on Southampton's Jack Cork was controversial enough for now departed manager Tony Pulis to appeal the dismissal, though.
Centre-midfielder: Dean Whitehead | Stoke City | Points: 12 (9 yellows and one red - two yellows)
Another Stoke player, Whitehead staggeringly took just 141 minutes for every card he picked up this year. Renowned for his uncompromising playing style, the former Sunderland player looks set to be a contender for the team again next season.
Left-wing: Steven Pienaar | Everton | Points: 11 (5 yellows and 2 reds - both two yellows)
The South African winger is better known for his trickery and technical ability rather than his ill-discipline, yet was sent from the pitch twice this season. The victim of a terrible refereeing decision against QPR, this will probably be Pienaar’s first and only appearance in such an XI.
Striker: Luis Suarez | Liverpool | Points: 10 (10 yellows)
Liverpool’s enigma is controversial to say the least. His list of misdemeanours includes racial abuse and blatant diving, and he was booked 10 times this term.
Moreover, he was handed an unprecedented ten match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in April, and hate aimed at the Uruguayan is likely to continue, despite pleas from manager Brendan Rodgers to give him some respite.
What do you think? Let me know below.
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