Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez was the first player to be sent off this Premier League season, following in the footsteps of some huge names.
Darwin Nunez’s accidental turning-around-too-quickly (or headbutt as most of us like to call it) against Crystal Palace led to the Liverpool forward becoming the first man to be sent off this season. The Uruguayan is subsequently banned for one of the biggest matches on the calendar, as his teammates prepare to face Manchester United.
The unwanted honour has to fall on someone every year, so here’s an XI made up from the players who got an unexpected break after picking up the first red card of a season.
Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois
Jose Mourinho lifted the Premier League title with Chelsea in 2015 during his second spell at Stamford Bridge but the defence of their crown was truly awful, with the Blues finishing in tenth and Mourinho long gone come the end of the season.
There were bad omens right from the get go. A 2-2 draw with Swansea left them stumbling out of the blocks, not helped by Thibaut Courtois receiving his marching orders after chopping down Bafetimbi Gomis.
If you fancy a goalkeeper challenge, try naming the English keeper who was the first player to be sent off in the 1995/96 season.
Right-back: Kyle Naughton
Mauricio Pochettino’s first match in charge of Tottenham back in 2014 ended with a win over West Ham, despite Kyle Naughton’s best efforts to ruin the day. The Spurs defender was sent off after blocking a Kevin Nolan strike with his hands in the penalty area. Mark Noble missed the subsequent spot-kick and Eric Dier punished the Hammers’ missed opportunity with a winner in extra-time. Both sides were down to ten men by that time after James Collins picked up a second yellow.
Centre-back: Gary Cahill
Another Chelsea title defence got off to a bad start in 2017 after new club captain Gary Cahill got himself sent off after just 14 minutes for a reckless lunge on Burnley’s Steven Defour. By half-time the Stamford Bridge crowd had witnessed the Clarets take a stunning 3-0 lead, with Antonio Conte tearing his hair out on the sidelines. The Blues managed to score twice in the second half but their comeback was made even harder after Cesc Fabregas also saw red, leaving his side down to nine men.
Centre-back: Laurent Koscielny
It’s fair to say Laurent Koscielny didn’t have the best start to the 2013/14 season. The French defender conceded a penalty in Arsenal’s match with Aston Villa, leading to Villa going 2-1 up. Six minutes later, Koscielny picked up a second yellow and could do nothing to prevent the Gunners slumping to a 3-1 defeat.
Daniel Agger is another option for this side, with the Danish centre-back receiving his marching orders in Liverpool’s shock 3-0 loss to West Brom on the first day of the 2012/13 campaign.
Left-back: Dean Blackwell
No XI relating to ill discipline would be complete without a Wimbledon player. Dean Blackwell obliges, having seen red in the opening match of the Crazy Gang’s last ever campaign in the top flight. Blackwell was ordered off the pitch after fouling Watford’s Michael Ngonge in the box, leading to the Hornets’ first Premier League goal, although a topsy-turvy match ended up with the Dons winning 3-2. Both sides went down come the end of the season.
Central midfield: David Batty
A Wimbledon player was a predictable choice for this team and another spot goes to a man you would suspect of picking up a fair few bookings in his career. Yorkshire’s finest David Batty was the first name on the naughty list in the 1997/98 season, seeing red while playing for Newcastle after diving in late on Aston Villa’s Steve Staunton.
Lee Cattermole is another of the usual suspects eligible for this XI, as the first man to take an early bath in the 2010/11 campaign.
Central midfield: Gareth Barry
The 2003/04 season marked Portsmouth’s first Premier League campaign, with an opening match against established top-flight side Aston Villa. Golden oldie Teddy Sheringham scored the opener to send Fratton Park into raptures, before Patrik Berger doubled the home side’s lead. Gareth Barry then managed to scare and settle the crowd in a matter of minutes, winning and scoring a penalty to half the deficit for the visitors, before picking up a second yellow card to ease the pressure on Pompey as they held on for the win.
Right-wing: Ray Parlour
Steve McClaren’s return to Manchester United has not gone swimmingly thus far, but the former England boss is familiar with being on the receiving end of such a scoreline early on in the season. His Middlesbrough side were thumped by Arsenal in his first game back in 2001. McClaren might have hoped Ray Parlour’s dismissal early in the second half would help his team turn around a one-goal deficit, but Arsene Wenger’s men scored three quick-fire late goals after Ugo Ehiogu’s harsh red card in the 85th minute evened up the numbers.
Left-wing: Darren Ambrose
While Darwin Nunez at least waited until his second game before getting sent off, former Charlton midfielder Darren Ambrose saw red in his debut for the Addicks on the opening day of the 2005/06 campaign. Luckily for him the opponents that day were Mick McCarthy’s Sunderland, a team that ended the season with just 15 points. Charlton ran out 3-1 winners despite being a man down and Ambrose even managed to set up Darren Bent for the opener before his crunching studs-up challenge on Stephen Wright put a premature end to his day.
Striker: Dave Kitson
Perhaps the most impressive (or least impressive, depending on which way you want to look at it) sending off in this XI belongs to Dave Kitson, who obviously didn’t fancy the exercise after spending just 47 seconds on the pitch before receiving his marching orders. The Reading forward’s ugly challenge on Manchester United’s Patrice Evra saw him pick up the first red card of the 2007/08 season, but luckily for him the Royals held on for an unlikely point at Old Trafford.
Striker: Niall Quinn
A striker received the first red card of this campaign as the Premier League celebrates its 30th anniversary and it was a striker who was the first to get sent off in the competition’s inaugural season back in 1992. Niall Quinn is the player in question, with the Irish hero taking an early bath after hitting Middlesbrough’s Paul Wilkinson, leaving his Manchester City side a man down in their 2-0 defeat at Ayresome Park. Stephen Lodge became the first referee to brandish a red card in the Premier League after disciplining Quinn and he was also the first official to send Patrick Viera off, with the legendary Arsenal skipper jointly holding the record for most dismissals in the competition alongside Richard Dunne and Duncan Ferguson.
James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs