Happy Monday, Spurs fans! Are you English? Then you probably have no idea about what today's theme is all about. Are you Canadian? Then you already had your Thanksgiving, shut up. Tottenham Hotspur dismantled West Ham 4-1 on Sunday, and it's just about perfect timing. What better way to say "thanks" to sport than with a complete annihilation of your cross-town rival?
So to commemorate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday (that's on Thursday for you furriners who don't America), we're dedicating today's match ratings to the Thanksgiving meal. Not to the turkey – [FUN] the turkey – but to the side dishes. The Thanksgiving sides are where the real magic happens, and it's where the best food is to be had. †
† – Note: for purposes of these rankings, we are not considering gravy as a side. Gravy is straight fire, and the indisputable king of Thanksgiving, but it's a natural consequence of the turkey. You can't have gravy without turkey. Well, you can, but it would suck. So assume gravy is, like, 10 stars. We're ranking whatever comes next.
5.5 stars: Mashed Potatoes
You're damn right I am. Mashed potatoes are manna from heaven. If you have Thanksgiving dinner and you aren't serving a metric ton of mashed potatoes made with about a billion pounds of butter, then you hate America. Mashed potatoes elevates the humble spud from a mere root to fluffy clouds of pure joy. Use a potato ricer to get the right consistency, use a s**t-ton of real butter, and screw the russets – Yukon Gold is where it's at. And I will broker no arguments.
Mousa Dembele: On a day where everybody was good, Mousa was sublime. That was a world-class performance from our Belgian midfielder. Sure, Harry Kane scored two goals. He was great. Jan and Toby were fantastic as well. But I have rarely seen such a dominating performance from a Tottenham midfielder as what I saw from Mousa on Sunday. It was like he was hammering the truck stick on FIFA all game long, and still found time to put in some silky passes to his teammates. He's un-droppable at this point and is making a strong case for himself as Spurs' best player on form right now.
5 stars: Roasted Vegetables / Brussels Sprouts
Hate Brussels sprouts? You've never had them prepared properly. There are few dishes at Thanksgiving that I look forward to more than the roasted vegetable platter, and that's almost always dominated by Brussels sprouts. These miniature cabbages are sublime when roasted, but you don't have to stop there. Any root veggie is great when tossed in olive oil, salt, and a little garlic or ginger, and stuck into a 425º oven for about 30-40 minutes. The exteriors caramelize, the interiors turn fluffy and soft. Carrots, potatoes, squash, beets, rutabaga... veggies never tasted so good.
Harry Kane: Kane was at his best again today, scoring two outstanding goals and shanking what looked like a sure third. Strong on the ball, his movement was what really took my breath away. That turn on his first goal -- wow! So long as Kane stays healthy, Spurs are always going to have opportunities to score. Kane now has eight goals after that barren patch at the beginning of the season.
Christian Eriksen: Once upon a time it was up to Christian Eriksen to shoulder the scoring burden for Tottenham Hotspur. Those days are gone, which has actually freed up Christian to do what he does best: create. Not that he can't still score – he had a great shot deflected and saved on Sunday – but his game has expanded beautifully now that he can look for his best shot instead of forcing things. He was once again omnipresent in Spurs' attack, pulling strings, making great passes. Wonderful stuff.
Toby Alderweireld: Toby was absolutely immense on both ends of the pitch for Spurs on Sunday, which is pretty spectacular considering he's a central defender. He rarely let Andy Carroll, Victor Moses, or Sakho get a sniff at goal, and his evisceration of Winston Reid that led to his headed goal was top-drawer stuff. It looked like a diagrammed set piece (and almost certainly was), and it was executed to perfection.
Jan Vertonghen: He doesn't have the gaudy offensive statistic to go along with Toby, but Jan was the other half of a brick wall in front of Hugo Lloris and deserves an incredible amount of credit for his defensive performance.
Kyle Walker: Kyle had a bit of a rough start versus Victor Moses, but settled nicely into the match after the opening minutes and put in one of his best defensive performances of the season. Equally dangerous going forward, he capped off the match with a well-placed (and deserved) goal. Had a minor defensive miscue at the end that led to Lanzini's goal, but at that point the match was over and Spurs' foot was off the gas, so I don't ding him too much for it.
4 stars: Biscuits
Full disclosure: my paternal grandparents lived most of their life Amish, so consequently I grew up eating a massive amount of Amish cooking. So when I say biscuits are floury pillows of absolute bliss, you'll know where I'm coming from. Don't serve your biscuits from a can. Be like the Amish, or anyone from the American south: make them from scratch. Get your "rolls" outta here, biscuits are the way, truth, and light. There is literally no dinner that is not drastically improved by the inclusion of biscuits, Thanksgiving included.
Dele Alli: Another fantastically well-rounded performance from our teenage star. Extremely involved in the attack, he had great awareness and was unlucky not to score after his rebound header went off the bar. Still a bit of a hot-head; his clash with Mark Noble and subsequent booking will keep him out of the Chelsea match.
Eric Dier: A quieter match than what we're used to seeing from Eric Dier, and I suspect it comes down to managerial decisions. He was much more reserved and seemed content to hang back and shield the back four in exchange for letting Dembele and Dier assume the passing and creativity burden. What he was asked to do, he did very well.
Danny Rose: Once again, Danny Rose was a terror going forward, finding acres of space on the left flank, which he used to fire crosses into the center of the box. If there's a minor criticism, it's that his final ball continues to be a little wayward, but that's being nit-picky. Rose was very, very good on Sunday.
Ryan Mason: A very solid 20-minute shift from Ryan Mason. Had a great shot that smacked off the post and looked lively in central midfield. With the form of Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele, it's not clear how Mason makes it back into the starting lineup, but the more I see from Mason the less worried I am about him coming in as an impact substitute. A good game.
Son Heung-Min: I've seen a lot of criticism of Sonny after this game, but I was very pleased with his performance. He was active in and around the box, and while he may have dallied just a bit too long on his scoring chances, his passing was strong and his contribution to the press made me miss Erik Lamela a lot less than I expected to. His passing created two major chances and one assist, and he's still not all the way back from his injury.
3 stars: Stuffing
Stuffing is part of Thanksgiving. It's fine. Sometimes, it's amazing. Most of the time, it's merely filler. There are so many different ways to make stuffing and so many ways for it to go catastrophically wrong, that this is the easy choice for a three-star Thanksgiving side. I have nothing against stuffing. But if you're sitting down at an unfamiliar Thanksgiving table and the stuffing passes by, you pays your money and takes your chances.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo didn't have that much to do, quite honestly. His positioning and distribution were solid enough. Lanzini's goal was unstoppable, so it's impossible to fault him for it. He was fine. Great? Naw. But at least on this day, he didn't have to be.
2 stars: Cranberry Sauce
Raise your hand if you actually like this stuff. Anyone? ... Beuller? For the majority of Americans, cranberry sauce is that gelatinous red stuff you dump out of a can that still maintains the shape of the can when it leaves. Nobody really likes it, but everyone takes a spoonful of it as it passes by because they're too polite to tell the host to stick their crappy cranberry sauce where the sun don't shine. So you eat it. And you pretend to like it because it's Thanksgiving, dammit, and sometimes you have to suffer a little to get to the couch and the football, like when you have to talk to your uncle Merv about Tea Party politics for 20 minutes, or when your grandmother asks when you're getting married.
It's a testament to how well this match went that no Tottenham players were as mediocre as cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving Day.
1 star: Sweet Potato Casserole
For me, it was a toss-up between sweet potato casserole and green bean casserole as the worst Thanksgiving side dish. I was finally persuaded after consultation with my colleagues. Take sweet potatoes, which are pretty fantastic on their own, and add brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, butter, and top it with marshmallows. MARSHMALLOWS, for God's sake, as if it wasn't already dia-beetus in a dish! If you're putting marshmallows on top of a vegetable dish, you've already lost. Don't serve this. Think of the children and their future insulin shots.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were anywhere near as bad as sweet potato casserole.
Josh "Joshy" Onomah, Tom Carroll