Who comes top (and bottom) of dirtiest captain league?

We look at where your favourite team's skipper finished in the black arts stakes

Given that football club captains are supposed to lead by example, there is one league table from last season that it is best to finish bottom of. Step forward Spurs‘ goalkeeper and captain, Hugo Lloris. He finished bottom of a table showing the ‘dirtiest’ captains in last season’s Premier League with zero points – and that’s the place to be.

With football fans now confined to their couches to watch the Premier League, we can still reminisce about the time the stadiums were full. And, while being clean is important now more than ever (reaches for hand sanitiser), footballers sometimes play dirty.

With that in mind, sought to find out which Premier League club captains are most likely to play dirty! The gaming company analysed the number of fouls committed by each captain, as well as the number of yellow or red cards awarded, during the 2019/20 season to come up with a points system (see below). While the facts are indisputable, we would point out that no attempt has been made (to our knowledge, at least) to compare these black marks with time spent on the pitch.

For example, the second least dirty captain is Leicester City’s Wes Morgan, who had no red or yellow cards and just four fouls. But, he didn’t play in every game. Far from it. Morgan only played in 11 out of the 38 games and seven of those appearances were as a substitute. So, a black mark average of just less than one for every three times played.

Who is the club captain who plays the dirtiest?

Southampton midfielder, James Ward-Prowse is a man who lives by his words: “We had the reputation of being a bit too nice and we’ve had to show a bit more aggression and a bit of that darker side in order to help us win games.” Prowse, as you will note, does like to embrace the dark side of the game, coming in first place! The captain scored a whopping 66 bad points to note last season, most of which were fouls (57).

Second on the naughty step is Luka Milivojević, the Crystal Palace midfielder. With 50 fouls and 12 yellow cards to his name last season, Milivojević gathered a total of 62 black marks altogether. Given that he appeared 31 times you could draw the conclusion that he ‘earned’ an average of two black marks per appearance.

In third is Aston Villa’s midfielder, Jack Grealish, with 42 mishaps on the pitch last season – eight yellow cards and 32 fouls.

Which Premier League captains are the best behaved on the pitch?

The captain scoring 0 mishaps during the 2019/20 season was, as mentioned earlier, Hugo Lloris. Lloris was on the pitch for just more than half of Spurs’ league games (21 out of a possible 38).

Third cleanest was Simon Francis of Bournemouth, who committed 11 mishaps in the 2019/20 season, of which seven were fouls and three were yellow cards. Again, he was not an ever-present in the side, appearing only 15 times – less than half.

Manchester United’s Harry Maguire had 39 points but, given he appeared in all 38 Premier League games game, that means he averaged about a single black mark every game. He plays in defence – and these stats include fouls – so we could make out a case for him being cleaner than most… if we were so inclined.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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