Tottenham Hotspur managed to grind out a mostly comfortable 1-0 win at home over Cardiff City. A narrow victory at home to a side almost certainly headed for the drop may not be the stuff dreams are made of, but three points is three points. Though the performance was far from stellar, it was miles from the embarrassing capitulation a week ago. And most importantly, yesterday's result leaves Spurs only six points behind Liverpool and Arsenal and keeps our top four delusions alive for another week.
In the spirit of championing the successful but average, we rate our players based on how worthy the last few Best Picture winners were.
5 Stars - The Hurt Locker
Was it the best film of 2009? Depending on your preferences, possibly not. But it was visually stunning, brutally intense, and most importantly, it
kept James Cameron's Pocahontas-Smurfs in space from winning dared to actually say something. For Hollywood's cadre of circle-jerking backslappers that comprise the Academy, The Hurt Locker winning for Best Picture is nothing short of amazing. On this all-too-rare occasion, Hollywood stopped tweeting selfies to actually reward excellence in filmmaking at an awards show that purports to do nothing but. It's a shame that this basic level of expected competence is as good as it gets, but if you watched the match yesterday it's all very thematically cohesive.
Roberto Soldado: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Though in Bobby Soldier's case, it was more like "cometh the past 15 hours" but that's all behind him now. He took his goal wonderfully and the relief on his face after burying the game winner was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. His all around play was typically excellent, and hopefully now that he's off the mark the goals will start pouring in.
Michael Dawson: He's been the victim of some abuse for his performances this season, but on Sunday he was an absolute rock. He shut down absolutely everything that came near him, and even could have gotten himself on the score sheet. Welcome back, Daws. Please stay a while.
4 Stars - The Artist
Hollywood loves celebrating how awesome movies are, and it's no coincidence that 2011's Best Picture slate included not one but two movies glorying in the magic of early cinema. While fellow nostalgia-clad nominee Hugo earned the distinction of being Martin Scorsese's worst ever film (sorry, Boxcar Bertha), The Artist was actually good. Compared to the dreck it was nominated against (War Horse? Is that a joke?), The Artist feels like a pretty valid winner.
Kyle Naughton: Naughton showed yesterday why he was Kyle 1 when the two of them were at Sheffield United. While he may lack the physical gifts of his counterpart, his composed defending and excellent delivery from both open play and on set pieces served him well in his understudy role. A far cry from the calamity of his left back performances, he continues to improve when fielded in his natural position.
Hugo Lloris: As bad as Hugo the movie is, Hugo the Lloris was the opposite. Controlled his area well and made a few good stops. His distribution, which is usually the weakest part of his game, was also vastly improved (57% passing compared to 42% for the season).
Jan Vertonghen: Didn't get into a single fight, and pulled off one seriously sexy roulette. Also played good football.
Aaron Lennon: Worked hard, threatened well. Defensively was absolutely immense.
Andros Townsend: His decision-making continues to improve and his game already looks significantly more mature than it did at the beginning of the season. The end product still isn't quite coming off, but he constantly looks dangerous.
3 Stars - 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave fought off a lot of solid competition this year, and any of half a dozen films could have taken the top prize without being wildly undeserved. But while Gravity dominated the visual and technical awards, 12 Years a Slave's victories for Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay seemed like the hallmarks of an also-ran. To take nothing away from the film itself, it almost feels like 12 Years a Slave ended up winning the big one by default, as if the voters went down the ballot thinking "Lost in space, wallstreet millionaire, guy dating an iphone, some british movie, whoa, wait, slavery? Yeah, I'm gonna have to vote for the slavery one aren't I?" If only Dallas Buyer's Club had been called Matthew McConnaughey Has AIDS, we may have had a wildly different race.
Emmanuel Adebayor: Looked tired and a little off the pace. Not up to his recent high-standard, but in his defense he's featured almost every minute since his return. Had a few moments of quality and the assist for the winner, so who are we to complain?
Mousa Dembele: Started off fairly shaky, but eventually grew into the game. Looks so much better next to Sandro it's ridiculous.
Sandro: Sandrogo is the stallion who mounts the world.
Nacer Chadli: Should have had an assist after a wonderful move to lay off for Harry Kane.
Harry Kane: Inches away from his first Premier League goal. The Hurricane is coming soon, it's only a matter of time.
2 Stars - The King's Speech
The King's Speech is the classic Oscar-bait film and the Academy went for it hook, line, and sinker. Literally any other movie nominated that year would have been a more interesting choice. The King's Speech has no point, other than to remind people that British people are good at acting and that having a stutter probably sucks. Plus, it spawned a slew of awful headlines like "You'll be lost for words!" and "It will leave you speechless!" If bad headlines don't Spur your hatred, I don't know what will. Especially when they should have read "This movie says nothing." Because it doesn't.
Paulinho: Some really good moments mixed with some anonymity. Typical Paulinho performance. Have we seen him play next to Sandro yet? I feel like that should happen.
Zeki Fryers: More or less a good showing from the young fullback, but his passing was woeful. Even so, he filled in well and looks like he could be a solid contributor for us in the future.
1 Star - Argo
Takes Hollywood's love for fictionalized history and forcefeeds it full of its self-congratulatory love affair with the power of cinema. LOOK HOW IMPORTANT MOVIES ARE, THEY SAVE LIVES! No, they don't. Alan
Alda Arkin and John Goodman bantering about old Hollywood was the only honest moment in that movie. Argo f*ck yourself.
Nobody was as bad as Ben Affleck's beard in Argo.