The decision to send a player off is never taken lightly by Premier League officials – but both referees and players have found themselves to blame for some of the most ridiculous red cards seen in the competition’s history.
Whether a referee has overreacted to a minor incident or an angry player forcing their hand with a mindless brainfart, the Premier League has seen some strange dismissals down the years.
We’ve dipped into the archives and pulled up 11 of the most ridiculous red cards ever seen at top-flight stadiums.
Dalot was sent off for two pieces of dissent in the same incident during Manchester United’s goalless draw at Liverpool in December 2023.
The defender was widely judged to have been harshly treated by Michael Oliver, with both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher questioning the referee’s decision.
“What does dissent twice even mean?” Neville asked. “How do you break up one rant into two bookings?”
Carragher then replied: “Has he given it for dissent twice? That seems incredibly harsh for me,” before Neville added: “Well… is that even a red card?”
It is, Gary. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t extremely harsh.
"It looked like that second motion was at the same time the yellow card was being put up" @GNev2 and @Carra23 don't think Diogo Dalot needed to be sent off against Liverpool 🤔 pic.twitter.com/0OS6qgFrtW
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) December 17, 2023
Mid-December is by far the best time to get sent off for a Premier League player – any red card would mean missing a chunk of the bulging festive fixture list and allow you to indulge in more roast potatoes on Christmas Day.
We don’t know whether they have roasties in Mexico, but we do know that Jimenez’s kung-fu demonstration on Sean Longstaff was motivated by the desire to drink egg nog and doze off in front of the television.
How is this a red card?
Now I’m going to be sat in the changing rooms for 45 minutes 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/9LYoHtzSt7
— Raúl Jiménez (@ParodyFootyAcc) December 16, 2023
After Stoke had conceded against West Ham in 2008, Fuller decided to slap his team-mate and captain Andy Griffin in the face. In terms of misguided motivational techniques, this was right up there.
Unsurprisingly shown a straight red card by referee Mike Jones for this incident, Fuller later doubled down on his behaviour, saying that Griffin had been ‘very rude and disrespectful’.
Robin van Persie
With Arsenal 2-0 down at a gleeful Britannia Stadium in 2008, Van Persie allowed his simmering pot to boil over onto the metaphorical kitchen stove.
Never the most placid of footballers, the Dutchman shoulder-barged Thomas Sorensen as the Stoke goalkeeper attempted to waste time. Silly.
#OnThisDay in 2008: @stokecity 2-1 @Arsenal.
Robin van @Persie_Official was shown the second red card of his PL career, as a poor Arsenal side lost to Stoke in the first PL meeting between the two sides. It was the first league meeting since 1985. #COYG #SCFC 🔴⚪️ pic.twitter.com/dftQXwowbS
— On This Day in the Premier League (@OTD_PL) November 1, 2021
After dining on Red Bull and Smarties for a week, Gerrard came off the bench against Manchester United in 2015 on a one-man mission to snap every opposing limb.
He lasted 38 seconds. Iconic.
With Chelsea trailing at West Brom in 2015, the hot-headed Fabregas seemed to lose his temper while the referee was in discussions with the home side after a foul had been given.
Standing 20 yards away, the midfielder launched the ball at Chris Brunt, hitting him on the head with trademark accuracy. Funny, but a straight red.
— CFCDaily (@CFCDaily) January 5, 2019
As West Brom were trailing 3-0 at West Ham in 2013, Mulumbu was tripped by Hammers midfielder Gary O’Neil as the clock ticked down.
Pretty innocuous? Well, it lit a fire under the Baggies midfielder who picked the ball up and smashed it at O’Neil. He was rightfully sent off.
A textbook six-pointer between Norwich and Bournemouth in 2020 was settled by Steve Cook’s metamorphosis into Gianluigi Buffon.
Cook produced a finger-tip save to prevent Ondrej Duda from opening the scoring and left the referee with little option to send him off. Bournemouth ended up losing anyway.
Kieron Dyer & Lee Bowyer
16 years ago today, Newcastle “teammates” Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dwyer were both sent off for fighting each other.
With friends like these… pic.twitter.com/AFZ9OMumFk
— Derek Alberts (@derekalberts1) April 2, 2021
Never mind the Premier League, Taylor’s amateur theatrics in the same match suggested he held a secret scholarship at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) November 23, 2017
A penalty was awarded in the game between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in 2014 after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had used his hand to stop Eden Hazard’s effort on the line.
Pretty standard until Andre Marriner decided to send off Kieran Gibbs instead in a toe-curling case of mistaken identity.
Oxlade-Chamerblain tried to get Marriner to re-consider but the decision stood and Arsenal went on to lose the game 6-0.
The red-faced ref had to apologise for the incident and both Gibbs and Oxlade-Chamberlain were cleared by The FA, who deemed the latter’s actions not worthy of a red given that Hazard’s strike was heading wide.
🔴⚪️ Throwback to when Gibbs was Oxlade Chamberlain for the day 💯⚪️🔴 pic.twitter.com/pnrXG4mfer
— GoonerNick (@nickvann1987__) June 14, 2021