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These 30 Premier League footballers are just one festive booking away from Christmas off

Keep an eye on any loose tackles from these guys over the weekend…

Christmas can be a difficult time of year for footballers, who often have to train on Christmas Day or even stay in a hotel away from their families.

But there is one way to get Christmas day off as a baller, and it doesn’t involve pulling a sickie either.

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Referee Anthony Taylor shows a yellow card to Chelsea's Tiemoue Bakayoko

An accumulation of five yellow cards in either the first half or second half of the season results in a one-game ban for a player, and with one gameweek left before the Boxing Day fixtures, every Premier League player on four domestic yellow cards is just one caution away from missing the annual feast of seasonal soccer.

Here are the players who could just earn themselves a lie-in with a soft booking here or there.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, West Brom lead the way

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Chelsea’s Alvaro Morata (left) and West Bromwich Albion’s Claudio Yacob (right) exchange words during the Premier League match at The Hawthorns stadium

What do you expect when your team’s philosophy is based on a centre-back’s dream of Total Football?

West Brom have four players on the cusp of the naughty list: Claudio Yacob, James McClean, Jonny Evans and Allan-Romeo Nyom.

Furthermore, with an away day at Stoke on Saturday, a smattering of bookings certainly wouldn’t come as a surprise in what has been fondly described as the Tony Pulis derby in recent years.

Stars at the top of the tree

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Manchester United and Manchester City players during a Premier League game

With Manchester City 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, it’s stretching things to suggest that any suspensions could affect things significantly, but both Manchester United and City do have three players just a booking away from a game on the naughty step.

For United, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young, and for City, Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho and Leroy Sane.

Meanwhile, Friday’s evening fixture in the race for a Champions League place sees Arsenal and Liverpool go head to head at the Emirates Stadium, with Dejan Lovren, Alexis Sanchez and Granit Xhaka all on four yellows.

The best of the rest

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Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during the Premier League match at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton

Six teams have no players on four domestic bookings: Leicester, West Ham, Watford, Swansea, Southampton and Newcastle.

Meanwhile, here are the remaining 17 players whose Christmas plans are yet to be finalised. How many of these won’t be donning their boots on Boxing Day?

Bournemouth: Harry Arter, Steve Cook, Simon Francis
Burnley: Jack Cork, Phil Bardsley
Brighton: Anthony Knockaert, Lewis Dunk, Glenn Murray
Chelsea: Antonio Rudiger
Crystal Palace: Jason Puncheon
Everton: Ashley Williams, Idrissa Gueye
Huddersfield: Tom Smith
Stoke: Joe Allen, Kevin Wimmer
Tottenham: Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen

Only a scrooge would begrudge them the day off, surely?

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