I'm no expert at Mario Kart. Heck, the last console I owned was the original PlayStation. But a buddy of mine got a Nintendo 64 when I was in college in the late '90s, and we played the crap out of that machine in his dorm room. And when we played, we almost always played Mario Kart. Hours and hours of Mario Kart, when we really should've been studying or something. Christ... seven years of college down the drain!
Don't ask me for advice about the intricacies of various tracks. I could never hit that shortcut on the Rainbow Road (or any track, for that matter). But I played all of the characters at one time or another, and I have #taeks. And since various Tottenham Hotspur players are also playing Mario Kart on Spurs TV videos right now, it seemed like an appropriate time to whip out this theme. Plus it'll get you chuckleheads talking about something else besides what a tire fire Sunday's match was.
So here are the Tottenham Hotspur player rankings for the Newcastle loss, to the theme of Mario Kart 64 characters.
5 Stars: Toad
In my Mario Kart 64 days, I always played as Toad. Toad has one of the best accelerations in the game and a decent top speed. He's also a little heavier than Princess Peach, so he doesn't take as long to get back on his feet after getting knocked around and is agile enough to avoid obstacles (or at least feels that way). Plus he has spots, so he looks cool while driving around. Because who doesn't want to pilot an anthropomorphized mushroom?
Unfortunately, nobody stood out as a five-star performer in this match. Which could be why we lost.
4 Stars: Yoshi
This is contentious, I know. Yoshi and Toad are regularly mentioned as two of the best overall characters, and they're very similar. All else being equal, Yoshi is a dumb dinosaur/lizard thing, and Toad is a living, probably poisonous, fungus. Toad wins.
Erik Lamela: Erik was very, very good yesterday in the press. He also had a couple of good attempts on goal as well, especially in the first half, that were kept out by the heroics of Rob Elliot. Looked tired along with the rest of the team in the second half which is the only reason he's not at a 5 star rating.
Toby Alderweireld: Lots of long passes out of defense, some truly heroic tackles and interceptions... and a fluffed clearance in front of goal that led to Toon's equalizer along with a couple of minor scary moments when Toon were pushing high. I don't really blame him for it, and he was a pretty big reason why we didn't lose by a greater margin.
Christian Eriksen: Eriksen looked more like his old self again, definitely looking to score (with a few attempts saved and even more blocked) and trying to find space in the channels to make things happen. His passing was a little wayward at times, but his corner to Dier's head was impeccably placed. I thought he did well.
3 Stars: Luigi
Why Luigi here and not Mario? It's a good question. They're essentially the same character, only one of them is green and the other is red. Both are thoroughly average Mario Karters: not fast enough to hang with the lightweights, but not heavy enough not to get thwacked off the course by the bruisers, They're both good for beginning players, but not exceptional at any one thing. And I went with Luigi here because Mario is fat and dumb.
Kyle Walker: Walker looked dangerous going forward (when he wasn't having the crap fouled out of him) and thought he coped with the threat of Wijnaldum capably well until the end. Had a couple of defensive derps, including letting Mitrovic free that almost lead to another Newcastle goal.
Danny Rose: Decent enough defensively, and had a bit of a creative spark going forward, but pretty wasteful in his crossing yesterday.
Jan Vertonghen: Jan was also pretty stout on balance defensively, and had a particularly wonderful miracle tackle. His one blemish, however, was losing track of Perez which led to Toon's winning goal.
Harry Kane: He had his moments and a couple of nice shots on target, but again didn't get the service he needed which resulted in him dropping ridiculously deep to get the ball.
Son Heung-Min: Sonny came in as a substitute for Tom Carroll and looked lively enough at the #10. His one chance was wasted when he shot high rather than look for a wide open Erik Lamela.
Dele Alli: Not as effective in the attacking band as we had hoped for. When Sonny came in I think we expected Dele to drop into the pivot, but he stayed very high, which gave Eric Dier problems in midfield. That's probably coaching, but still. Dele's hot head still gets him in trouble and he nearly picked up a yellow after a (literally) head to head confrontation with Mitrovic.
Eric Dier: Dier gets tons of credit for the set piece goal which was headed perfectly, but overall he looked a little lackluster in midfield. Fatigue? General slump? Who knows. He wasn't helped by Spurs playing effectively a 4-1-4-1 after Son came in for Carroll, though. He can only do so much, right?
Nacer Chadli: As someone (I forget who) said on Twitter, Nacer Chadli came here to chew gum and score goals, and he still had a bunch of gum left. Welcome back, Nacer. Shake off the rust fast.
2.5 Stars: Princess Peach
Peach is one speedy little vixen, but she's a lightweight and is thus unbalanced. If you're a technically excellent Mario Karter, by all means, give Peach a try since she's pretty fantastic at drifting, but the minute you hit something, you're screwed. POOMP! Peachy!
Tom Carroll: Oh, the excitement when we saw Tahmmy fahkkin' Carroll was starting yesterday. That's about as good as it got, unfortch. Tommy wasn't awful, especially at the beginning of the match when his passing abilities were on full display, but over time he looked lost out there, and when paired with a lackluster Eric Dier it was just not a good day for English Xavi. He was sublime against Monaco, but he didn't do enough Sunday to convince Pochettino that he deserves more league minutes. I'm sad now.
2 Stars: Bowser
There's a school of thought in Mario Kart that says that the best characters to use are the heavy ones with slow acceleration because they have the highest top speed. They may not zoom out in front immediately, but they can get faster than any other character in the game and can plow through other characters like a bowling ball through pins. It's a perfectly valid way of playing, but only if you're a humungous jerk. Bowser is the best of the heavyweight characters due to a slightly better acceleration, but man, I hate playing with heavies. I'd rather get out in front fast and hit 'em with a banana peel if they get too close.
Hugo Lloris: It pains me to put Hugo here, he was not very good on Sunday. Both of Newcastle's goals were somewhat derpy ones that Hugo, on pretty much any other day, probably saves easily. It just wasn't his day. I don't blame Hugo for the loss – that was a team effort – but it was one of the worse goalkeeping performances I've seen from him in a Tottenham shirt.
1 Star: DK
Heavy, but with worse acceleration than Bowser, which makes him just a big ol' clod that's only good for bumping players around and being an a*****e in battle mode. DK is the Ryan Shawcross of Mario Kart characters. He's probably managed by Tony Pulis. He's awful, and so are you if you play with him.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Donkey Kong in Mario Kart 64.