Who are the

Who are the "dirtiest" players & teams in the EPL? Stats Comparison

Last week we looked at which players were “fouled” the most in the Premier League according to the Opta Stats from our EPLIndex Stats Centre so today we thought we’d do a quick review of the “dirtiest” players in the Premier League, i.e. those players that concede the most fouls.

Firstly let’s have a look at which teams concede the most fouls. From common perception you’d expect Stoke to be up there for this one however they are ranked in fifth place and conceded around 34 fouls less than Wigan. That’s not much of a difference really averaging out to almost one foul per game. It was a pretty “dirty” league to be honest with fifteen sides conceding over 400 fouls last term.

Only Manchester United, Fulham, Wolves, Spurs and Swansea conceded less than 400 fouls last season. No surprise that Stoke are in the Top 5? There’s more analysis to come yet. Are any of Stoke’s players the dirtiest players in the league? Let see what the next graph displays:

If someone said to you that Peter Crouch concedes the most fouls for Stoke you’d never believe it but he does and he comes in 20th place here! There are dirtier players in the league: Grant Holt seems to find himself at the top of the list along with Fellaini. The rumoured to be departing: Alex Song, already left; Tim Cahill and recently relegated David Ngog make up the top five. Charlie Adam, Kevin Davies and Cheik Tiote also make it into the Top eight which doesn’t surprise us at all. Let’s go further and look at this from a minutes per foul conceded:

Nothing changes at the top with Grant Holt incredibly conceding a foul every 25.22 minutes! David Ngog is somewhat surprisingly in second place whilst you’d expect the next six players in the list with Kevin Davies, Fellaini, Cahill, Tiote and Charlie Adam (anyone mention Bale?) finding themselves at the top of the list. In our opinion strikers and defensive midfielders should be expected this high up on the list as these are the players that would normally be involved in duels and tackles. Strikers will go for everything in the air and are usually penalised for anything against defenders. In this day and age the advantage seems to go towards defenders and goal keepers – something to keep an eye on this year.

So no Stoke players? You surprised? I bet everyone though there would be more than just Peter Crouch on this list but it’s a myth that they’re a team of foulers, yes their playing style is direct and difficult but are they persistent foulers? Only their striker makes the top 20.

Moving on to teams then – who’s the ‘dirtiest’ in terms of conceding fouls when out of possession of the ball? We’ve taken an average possession figure from our Quick Season Stats area for each team and calculated an in and out of possession figure with 3420 minutes played in a full season. We then divided the in and out of possession minutes by the number of fouls won and lost to give the following graphs (Thanks to Omar Chaudhuri for idea as he wrote an article on this very subject earlier in the season on this site).

Nothing much has changed since Omar conducted his analysis – Manchester City are still the team that concedes fouls when they are out of possession of the ball. Now is this to be attributed to the hunger of wanting the ball back or are they just “dirty” – that’s open to interpretation. Stoke find themselves mid-table alongside Norwich who have the player that concedes the most fouls! Out of the relegation threatened teams it was Wigan who were fouling a lot and you’ll see a trend that the teams with more possession of the ball will tend to be higher on the list to concede free kicks.

The draw-back in the analysis is not being able to split the fouls conceded up into what types of fouls they are to allow us to investigate further – also missing are the fouls that aren’t given!

Finally what about those that are in possession of the ball – how often do they win free kicks?


Interesting to say the least! Manchester City are fouled the least when they are on the ball – granted they are on the ball a lot but they are fouled every 5.28 minutes. You’d think that with the most dangerous players in the side Manchester City would be fouled most often? Also Stoke are in fact the joint second most fouled team whilst in possession of the ball – something we didn’t expect at all. The top five teams who are fouled the least often are also the teams that had majority of the possession – Norwich apart – you could go as far as Swansea and Chelsea for this notion.

Balotelli Fouls SongSo as was mentioned in the original article by Omar it seems teams that play on the counter (clubs with less possession) will be the most likely to be fouled en route to their opponent’s goal. Again more variants would be required to analyse this further but from an in and out of possession look it’s interesting that it can be concluded that Manchester City foul the most often in the League when out of possession (surprisingly only Gareth Barry makes the top 20) and are fouled the least often when in possession!

For access to Four Years worth of Premier League Opta stats and to write on the site you can subscribe to our EPLIndex Stats Centre today!