Leeds United have become the first Premier League side to rack up 100 yellow and red cards in a season. The startling stat highlights the disciplinary issues that have dogged the Whites this term, culminating in the first-half dismissals of Dan James and Luke Ayling during the last two contests.
Ayling was given an early shower after a reckless challenge on Gabriel Martinelli during Sunday’s 2-1 loss at the Emirates and James received the same punishment when he dangerously scythed down Mateo Kovacic in Wednesday night’s 3-0 home reverse to Chelsea. Kalvin Phillips’ caution against the reigning Champions League winners, meanwhile, racked up the unwanted century with two games still left to play and also saw Leeds break into three figures for bookings in all competitions.
The previous highest haul was recorded by Derby County when the Rams accumulated 97 cards (93 yellow and four red) under the late Jim Smith in 1999/2000. The Pride Park outfit finished that season fifth-bottom with their future Leeds midfielder Seth Johnson and then United warrior Lee Bowyer being cautioned the most times in the Premier League that campaign, having been shown yellow 13 times apiece.
Read more: Antonio Conte’s Burnley ‘anger’ can help Tottenham hand Leeds United survival favour
This term, Elland Road defender Junior Firpo is one of five players that have been shown 10 yellow cards in the top tier. Fellow strugglers Burnley also boast two players who have reached double figures in Josh Brownhill and James Tarkowski, with the other culprits Southampton’s Jan Bednarek and Brighton’s Yves Bissouma.
Interestingly, none of the quintet have been sent off this term with Wolves’ Raul Jiminez and Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa the only Premier League players to have seen red twice. In fact, this time last week, Leeds had only seen one player red carded in the league all season – Pascal Struijk – for his challenge that dislocated Harvey Elliott’s ankle during September’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool.
But, following Ayling and James’ costly indiscretions in the space of four days, manager Jesse Marsch admitted the club’s fight for survival is a factor in the dismal disciplinary record. Last term, when United finished ninth in the table, there were nine sides with worse disciplinary records than the 59 yellow cards and one red shown to Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
“The situation of the table has something to do with it, it has everything to do with our situation right now,” Marsch said after the Chelsea loss. “We want to be aggressive, but certainly not cross the line.”
Phillips was the most cautioned Leeds player in the 2020/21 Premier League campaign after having his name taken 10 times. He was behind Aston Villa’s John McGinn (12) as well as then West Brom loanee Conor Gallagher and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, who both saw yellow 11 times.