The Premier League has long held the titles as "the toughest" and "most physical" of the big five leagues in Europe and through the years has had no shortage of bad boys and villains. With the modernization of the game, those days are slowly disappearing, as there is far less physicality and fewer crunching tackles then there were even just 10 years ago. The days of Roy Keane and Lee Bowyer may be gone but there are still some bad boys left in the Premier League. These are players who relish the chance to dive in and make a hard tackle or throw out a loose elbow when challenging for an aerial ball. Here are 10 modern players who fit the bad boy label and often tiptoe the line between being tough and aggressive and dirty:
10.) Jose Holebas
Ask your average football fan which player was booked the most times in the Premier League last season, the chances are they'll run through quite a few names before they get to Watford's Jose Holebas. But that's the correct answer: 14 in all, although he did at least manage to avoid getting a red card in amongst all of those, which in some respects is impressive. "If I have to take a yellow card I am going to take it," he told the Daily Express in October, with admittedly impressive candour. "If we are 1-0 behind, and I stop him going through -- I take the yellow. That was missing last year from some boys. They needed to be more tough. It was only me who was tackling hard."
9.) Granit Xhaka
Not long after Granit Xhaka arrived in England, Arsene Wenger compared him to Emmanuel Petit. You could see where he was coming from: upright midfielder with a sweet left foot and a penchant for a sweeping pass, but while Petit could obviously take care of himself, Xhaka is on another level of robustness altogether. He's managed to avoid getting sent off this season, but last term for club and country he was dismissed three times and booked on 14 occasions. You have to be a pretty good player to get away with that sort of record, and Xhaka...isn't quite there yet.
8.) Harry Arter
A low-key addition to this list, Arter usually just about manages to strike a balance between being the sort of tenacious tackler that everyone admires and encourages, and a full-on bad boy. But watch any Bournemouth game and he'll be there, buzzing around midfield, dishing out a kick here, a dig in the ribs there, and be the first to start chewing in the referee's ear when there's any debate to be had. Perhaps because he plays for Bournemouth, Arter doesn't quite get the attention as others mentioned here, but that doesn't mean he doesn't belong.
7.) Serge Aurier
While Serge Aurier's off-pitch...erm...issues could fill an article on its own, this list purely concentrates on the on-pitch behaviour of players. But he qualifies anyway, through a playing demeanour that you might generously describe as "robust". Aurier managed to get himself sent off in just his second game for Spurs, needlessly making a win over West Ham more nervous than it should have been for his team. "It's a lack of maturity," said Kolo Toure about his countryman. If he is to shake this reputation as a bad boy, he will have to work on that maturity quickly.
6.) Jamie Vardy
Can you imagine trying to mark Jamie Vardy? It must be absolutely nightmarish, this wiry but strong presence constantly buzzing around you while you try to go about the business of being a Premier League defender. Vardy's disciplinary record actually isn't too bad (he's only been sent off twice in the Premier League, but it's more the snarl on his face and the bite in his bark that make him a candidate to be one of the Premier League's spicier characters. You wouldn't imagine that many other players can tell a referee to, erm, "go away" with quite as much gusto as Vardy.
5.) Ander Herrera
Ander Herrera's career path has been pretty curious. When he arrived at Manchester United from Athletic Bilbao he seemed like a lithe, perhaps even lightweight playmaker, the man United signed when they couldn't get Thiago Alcantara. Now he's virtually an attack dog, the man (along with Marouane Fellaini) who Jose Mourinho throws in when he wants to mix things up. You'll notice that in any United game when there's a sniff of aggro, Herrera is the first one to arrive on the scene... that is on the occasions that he hasn't caused the aggro himself.
4.) Andy Carroll
Some players choose violence, others achieve violence: Andy Carroll has had violence thrust upon him. You'd imagine that Carroll would have been a very effective centre-forward in the days when the No. 9 was allowed to barge goalkeepers into the back of the net, but these days that's not quite so acceptable. You get the sense that Carroll doesn't have an aggressive soul, or a bad boy's instinct on the pitch, but his sheer size and flailing elbows mean that sometimes he just can't help but leave a trail of bloodied noses in his wake.
3.) Dele Alli
You can see Dele Alli's eyes glaze over when he's asked about his temperament. And he's asked about it a lot. But if he wants those irritating questions to stop, the easiest way to do that is probably by keeping his studs to himself a little more. Alli's unpunished potential leg-breaker on Kevin De Bruyne at the weekend was not an isolated incident, and when his form is poor, as it is at the moment, his disciplinary issues are even more pronounced. The line about players like Alli is that you can't take the devil from their game because it defines them, but it's not much use if he's suspended half the time.
2.) Jonjo Shelvey
There's a good case for Jonjo Shelvey to be the most frustrating player in the Premier League. A midfielder with his vision, range of passing and talent for timing a run probably should be at one of the top clubs in the country, but his flamboyant lack of common sense has almost certainly held him back. Probably the most memorable moment of his Liverpool career was him storming off the Anfield pitch, screaming that Sir Alex Ferguson was a "grass" for getting him sent off: that Shelvey had planted his studs into Jonny Evans' shin apparently had nothing to do with it. Five years later, on the first weekend of this season, apparently he hadn't learned, stamping on Dele Alli's ankle about two yards in front of the referee. Maybe one day he will actually learn...
1.) James McClean
Some people would put McClean on this list for his opinions away from football and his choice not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy, but those people would be wrong. Fortunately, he does more than enough on the field to make it anyway. McClean's propensity to make some pretty rambunctious tackles is partly a consequence of his relentless style of play, but sooner or later he's in danger of injuring someone pretty seriously. Take his foul on Tom Ince earlier this season, or the one on Poland's Arkadiusz Milik which put him out of action for six weeks. There's a fine line between a committed, aggressive player and a dirty one, and McClean often oversteps it.