By 90Min
February 06, 2018

Over recent weeks, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been vociferous in his call for more protection for 'all' players from officials over reckless challenges and rough treatment from combative opponents. 

The Spaniard even made the point of being unable to field all seven substitutes for their recent match against Burnley last Saturday due to injuries sustained to his squad. 

In reaction to Guardiola's comments, Mirror Sport complied their own statistical research to determine who are the 'Top 10 most fouled players' in the Premier League so far this season.

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(You may also be interested in: Pep Guardiola Wants Players Protected After Leroy Sane Injury Sours Cardiff Victory)

Invariably, the most influential players court the most attention due to their potential impact in matches, but the teams they play for and the minutes they have played are also defining variables. Surprisingly, neither Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez or any of Manchester City's formidable squad made the top three.

Top of the list is Watford's Richarlison drawing a whopping 76 fouls. The Brazilian forward was in scintillating form early in the season for the Hornets, but has been a little more subdued of late. With his clever touches and incisive dribbling to threaten opposing defences the shear volume of fouls is not a surprise - just his name being at the survey's summit.

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In second place, is Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli with 66 fouls. The young England international has the eye of a striker, but plays as a midfielder outside the penalty area. His fast and fluid approach combined with his high skill set makes him a primary target in his number 10 role. 

In third place, with 62 fouls, is Swansea City's Jordan Ayew. The quick Ghana international forward will draw fouls through his pace and sharp movement around the the penalty area. The slightest touch - in key areas - by an opponent will be exploited and result in a free kick in a crucial area of the pitch or the opportunity to release a build up of pressure on his Swan's defence. 

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The rest of the table can be found below with some very intriuguing results:

Top 10 Most Fouled Players in the Premier League 2017/18

Ranking  Player Fouls  Team Minutes Played in EPL
1 Richarlison  76 Watford 2209
2 Dele Alli 66 Tottenham Hotspur  2109
3 Jordan Ayew 62 Swansea City 2038
4 Alexis Sanchez 56 Manchester United  1688
5 Wilfried Zaha 55 Crystal Palace 1787
6 Eden Hazard 52 Chelsea 1527
7 Ashley Barnes 45 Burnley 1259
8 Raheem Sterling 44 Manchester City 1833
9 Javier Hernandez  42 West Ham United 1251
10 Ruben Loftus-Cheek 41 Crystal Palace 1331

Whether or not those players get the protection they need or deserve that is yet to be seen, but the statistics and outcomes sure make for interesting reading. 

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