Who is the most likely to see this season’s first red card?
It’s not all about great goals and stunning saves. The elite of the Premier League also need those bruising centre-backs and midfield terriers to get stuck into the opposition.
But some of the Prem’s toughest tacklers have a habit of taking it too far and getting themselves sent off.
Everton hero Duncan Ferguson has the most red cards in Prem history with eight. But who will be the first man to get their marching orders this season?
Pablo Zabaleta – West Ham United
Joint-fifth in the yellow card stakes last season, the veteran Argentina racked up nine of them in 37 league games for the Irons.
It’s been a few years since his last Prem sending off, but with four of them in his history, a fifth in the early part of this season wouldn’t be a shock.
Jonjo Shelvey – Newcastle United
The tenacious midfielder has a reputation for losing his cool on occasion. And while the 26-year-old did receive fewer bookings than usual last season, he also racked up two Premier League red cards.
The first came just 48 minutes into the season, at home to Tottenham Hotspur. That’s the same fixture the Magpies begin this campaign with…
Fernandinho – Manchester City
The Brazilian made his mark from the off as a City player – but as often as not, it was on an opponent’s shin.
Sent off twice in four games during the 2016-17 season, those reds took his career tally to nine sendings off. He’s racked up six red cards in 10 meetings with Arsenal, who the Citizens face on opening weekend.
Miguel Britos – Watford
Not one to shirk in the tackle, the 33-year-old has picked up a hefty 16 yellows and three red cards in 63 Prem games for Watford
Something off a hothead, the Uruguayan also endured a fairly lengthy ban following his violent headbutt on Alvaro Morata during his final game in a Napoli shirt.
Granit Xhaka – Arsenal
The Swiss midfielder has plenty of talents, but clean tackling isn’t really one of them. Xhaka gobbled up the yellow cards in 2016-17, with 12 in all competitions. And he was also sent off twice in the Prem that season – against Swansea and Burnley.
He avoided a red last season, but with 11 career sendings off for club and country, the next one is just a matter of time.
Vincent Kompany – Manchester City
The Belgian isn’t a naturally dirty player, but injuries and a lack of pace mean he’s prone to a clumsy challenge these days.
He picked up six yellow cards in 17 Prem outings last season, and has been red carded four times in a City shirt. Up against a pacey Arsenal frontline including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this weekend, it would be no surprise to see him mistimed a tackle or three.
Serge Aurier – Tottenham Hotspur
The Ivorian received his marching orders in just his second Spurs appearance last season. A tough tackler, he’s more likely to be sent off for amassing two yellows instead of a one-off horror challenge.
Still, the combative midfielder has been sent off for each of the last three clubs he’s played for, and another early bath in the coming weeks is plausible.
Fred – Manchester United
The diminutive midfielder has been booked in 50 of his 188 career appearances to date – an average of every 3.76 games. And multiple bookings in a couple of games have led to two reds since the start of the 2016-17 season.
The United new boy will be determined to show Jose Mourinho his toughness and tenacity. But he could well go overboard in the process.
Aleksandar Mitrovic – Fulham
The fiery forward made his move to the Cottagers permanent this summer. But while he’s a real goal threat, his temper also makes him a risk to his own side’s chances.
At 23-years-old, he’s already racked up 46 yellows and six red cards. With a feisty London derby against Crystal Palace on Saturday, that could soon become seven.
Oriol Romeu – Southampton
The Spaniard recorded the most Premier League yellows last season, with a whopping 11 of them for Saints.
He’s so far managed to avoid a red for the South Coast club – but having racked up 22 yellows in the past two Prem campaigns, it surely has to happen at some point?