Tottenham Hotspur defeated Aston Villa 3-1 on Monday, and while it was a bit scary for a few minutes there in the second half, a beautiful strike from Harry Kane put the game away and helped position Spurs as a real contender for the Champions League places. It sure was fun!
In the Cartilage Free Captain writer's room in Slack, we have a bot set up to respond with fun comments whenever someone types the words "Tim Sherwood." It's a hell of a lot of fun, and the responses are usually so on the nose that we're pretty sure it's sentient. It's been modified and added to over the past year and all of SB Nation Soccer has access to it, so sometimes Sherwood-Bot spews forth new stuff that even we didn't add.
So here are today's match ratings for the Aston Villa match, to the theme of our favorite Tim Sherwood Slack Bot responses. Enjoy!
If there's a single quote that sums up Tim Sherwood the most succinctly, it has to be this one. Tim is clearly the most banterrific manager we've seen in the Premier League in a long, long time. He'd banter with players. He'd banter with the media. He'd banter with opposition fans. Banter, banter, banter. I won't miss Tim for much, but I'll miss him for this.
Mousa Dembele (MOTM): Wow. Mousa was superb throughout the match on Monday. It's easy sometimes to forget just how strong he is until you see him just shrug off Ciaran Clark en route to a very impressive near-post goal. His positioning, strength, and distribution were the reasons Spurs were so dominant for almost the entire match. And now he's scoring goals too! swoooooooooon
Dele Alli: Alli got the on-pitch MOTM after the match, and for good reason: he was fantastic. Calm and composed the entire match, he was all over the pitch, showing an excellent awareness pinging balls all over the place. His goal was the product of being in the right spot at the right time, but also being aware enough to place his shot beautifully. Appeared to fade late in the half; Pochettino will need to be careful that he doesn't get overtaxed too much. Man, if he's this good at 19, what will he be like at 23?!
Christian Eriksen: Some are calling Eriksen's performance on Monday "quiet" but I thought he was extremely impressive against Villa. He didn't score and had no assists, but he created four chances and was everywhere, with influence in just about every positive thing Spurs did against Villa. He's so, so important to what Spurs do offensively. His interplay with Erik Lamela is becoming Vulcan-esque: he seemed to know exactly where Erik was going and could get the ball to him in wide positions. It was a – dare I say it – Modric-esque performance from the Dane.
If Tottenham fans do have one thing to thank Tim Sherwood for, it's this. Now, maybe Mauricio Pochettino would've given Kane a chance when he came in -- it seems likely. But Sherwood did it first, and for that we should be grateful. Now, that said, shut the f**k up about it, Tim.
Erik Lamela: This was a superlative match for Erik. He was all over the pitch on Monday, pressing people, making good passes, searching for open teammates. Lamela has seemed to fully embrace his role on the team, and you can see from his more recent performances that he understands the way Pochettino wants him to play. If he had scored a goal against Villa, he'd not only be a five star, but very likely man of the match. He was great.
Harry Kane: Harry Kane continues to do the yeoman's work as an elite all-around striker. His work rate continues to impress, his strength allows him to shrug off defenders, he contributes to the press, and when he gets openings, mah gawd can he score some beauties. That goal... wowzers. Kane with confidence is a beautiful, beautiful thing.
We love this quote. It's equal parts insightful and utterly meaningless. I guess he's saying that natural leaders aren't born, they're made? But then why make the boys/girls distinction? Why distinguish "natural leaders" like a third gender? Best part is you can probably use to make just about any point you want. It's like a Tim Sherwood rorschach test.
Toby Alderweireld / Jan Vertonghen: Once again I'm combining the rating because they work so well together that often times their performances mirror each other as well. I was particularly impressed with Toby's positioning on defense as Villa tried to break through on the counter, and Jan had some fun-looking forward runs as well. A very solid match for both central defenders.
Eric Dier: I feel like I'm repeating myself now when it comes to Eric Dier. He's so crucially important to the way Tottenham plays, and his solid defensive efforts are what allows Spurs' midfield to be so impressive. He covers ground, defends well, and has a good passing range to boot. Long may it continue.
Kyle Walker: Kyle's seemed a bit off the boil in recent games but I thought he was very, very good in this match. He was superb going forward, was relatively mistake free, and I thought he dealt with the threat of Ayew quite well.
Back at the end of the 2013 season when it was clear that Sherwood would not be kept on, Tim's posture abruptly shifted from "I'm the manager of Tottenham Hotspur" to "I'm positioning myself to get a good job later." Hence: the 59% win ratio. Yes, it's pretty good. Yes, it's also a minuscule sample size. Also, it's now down to 42% after he f
ailed to actually win a match won only one match with Villa this season.
Hugo Lloris: GN Punk was right when he said that Hugo could've played Angry Birds in goal. He didn't have a whole lot to do over much of the game. Had one nice save in the first half, and there was nothing he could've done about Ayew's goal for Villa. He had a scary moment in the "terror period" where he rushed out to get a ball and Gestede nearly headed it into an open goal and again his distribution wasn't anything to write home about, but overall he was fine in a match where he was mostly a spectator.
Danny Rose: Once again in this match Tottenham opted to overload the left side and go after Alan Hutton, and Danny was very involved in this interplay. Danny was perfectly cromulent in this match – good going forward, capable in defense against a crappy team, and with a couple of very nice crosses into the box, including the one that led to Alli's goal.
Ben Davies: Davies was a substitute for Rose and did quite well overall, helping to stabilize a defense that was on its back heels late in the second half. Davies was very much involved in Kane's goal, getting the ball forward in transition and making a nice pass to Christian Eriksen in the middle. A good shift.
Josh Onomah: Onomah made his EPL debut with a five minute cameo and normally he wouldn't get a rating, but Onomah had some very nice moves with the ball, was also involved in Kane's goal, and had the audacity to drive forward and attempt an (ambitious) shot on target. If Clinton N'Jie is injured and not just rested, he might be called back into action sooner rather than later.
This one is also vintage Sherwood, and feeds into the subset of English football fandom that believes that what's missing from the modern game is that intangible thing that makes you try harder and out-will the other team. Does that exist? Surely, but it's intangible, and it's absolutely not the reason why Tottenham was a train wreck under your leadership, Tim. Guts! Grit! Heart! GTFO!
Ryan Mason: Let's make this abundantly clear: Ryan Mason was not abjectly awful on Monday. However, his decision to dribble the ball straight into one of his own teammates and get disposessed almost single-handedly led to Aston Villa's goal, and that scary period where Villa nearly equalized twice happened to coincide with his coming in for Mousa Dembele. This was a vintage "old Mason" performance: pretty decent overall, but with a couple of big-time screw-ups that actively damaged the team.
Of all the things that Tim Sherwood said as manager of Tottenham Hotspur (and probably of Villa, I guess I wouldn't know), this is the one that pissed me off the most. Asked in a press conference how Erik Lamela's English was coming along, this was his response. Lamela was a 22-year old kid from Argentina playing his first year in a new country. He was struggling, but he was also dealing with injuries and adapting to a new league and a new style of play. It was a shitty thing to say.
No Tottenham players were as crappy as this comment from Tim Sherwood. Thankfully.