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Premier League: a Thug life XI

Diego Costa playing for Chelsea

He’s finally got caught: after weeks of playing to the limit, pushing, fouling and winding up his opponents, Chelsea’s Diego Costa has been handed a 3 match ban for his stamp on Liverpool’s Emre Can.

Praised for his fighting spirit, Costa’s the ideal lone striker, and has perhaps being unfairly singled out as a dirty player, when there are plenty in the league who deserve that label more than him. As a tribute the that weird trend currently taking over my Facebook feed, here’s the current Premier League Thug life XI:

Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal): hard to pick a dirty keeper really, as they spend more of their time chilling on their goal line. But the smoking in the showers after the Southampton game was as Thug life as any goalie has got this season.

Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea): defenders are dirty, and tricky little attackers go down too easily. That’s how football tends to work. Chelsea’s Ivanovic though, is a bit of a novelty. Very good both defensively and going forward, the Serb knows how to play dirty, and is a great dive as well. The worst of both worlds.

Ryan Shawcross (Stoke): a few shirt pulling incidents aside, Shawcross has been relatively quiet this term. But as an Arsenal fan, I couldn’t not include the Ramsey-breaking centre half in this team. Plus it wouldn’t feel right for Stoke not to be represented in this team..

Ryan Shawcross breaking Ramsey's leg
Ryan Shawcross makes the cut. Literally..

Danny Rose (Spurs): with 31 fouls and 3 yellow cards in 16 appearances, Rose is the highest fouling defender in the league this season. At only 24, he could become a Thug life legend.

Gareth Barry (Everton): this season, Barry has received a landmark 100th yellow card in his PL career. This makes him the most booked player in history, ahead of other artists like Lee Bowyer, Paul Scholes and Scott Parker. Bravo.

Cheik Tiote (Newcastle United): not the most booked midfielder this season (Southampton’s Wanyama has been a beast this season), Tiote hasn’t found his Roy Keane boots yet this season. Nonetheless, he has been an absolute monster over the past few years, and in my opinion deserves a place in the side.

Lee Cattermole (Sunderland): Cattermole’s antics spread outside football. In December 2008, he was given a three-year ban across the Stockton borough, and was added to the Pubwatch blacklist of troublemakers after being arrested for disorder during a night out.

He was also arrested in December 2011 and charged with damaging five cars on Stowell Street in Newcastle, close to St James’ Park. On and he’s pretty dirty on the pitch too.

Joey Barton (QPR): perhaps the most Thug life player in this team. On the pitch, Barton has been known for such crazy acts as mocking Ibrahimovic’s nose to that hilarious, and this unnecessary kick on Aguero on the final day of the 2012 season:

Nowadays, Barton is attempting to re-invent himself as an intellectual, but you can’t take the Thug life out of him. On a recent appearance on Question Time, he described UKIP as the best of 4 ugly girls. For his commitment both on and off the pitch, I’ll give him the armband.

Wayne Rooney (Man United): close shot with a few others who have got stuck in this season, like Ashley Barnes and Pelle. But for the sake of longevity, it had to be.

Throughout his career, Rooney’s been sent off quite a few times, most notoriously for crushing Carvalho’s bollocks at the World Cup. In fact, Rooney’s so Thug life he had a TV show called ‘Wayne Rooney Street Striker’ a few years ago. Fair play, Wayne.

Diego Costa (Chelsea): obviously..

Mario Balotelli (Liverpool): need an explanation? Fine. For the ‘Why always me?’ t-shirt, setting his own bathroom on fire and gatecrashing press conferences. For the training bib incident, throwing darts and Man City academy players for a laugh and driving around with 5 grand of cash just because he can. For his celebration after scoring against Germany. For his stupid flip while on tour in the US, being the world’s best penalty taker and his stupid Super Mario Instagram post recently. And this story from Jose Mourinho:

Jose Mourinho quote about working with Mario Balotelli

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