That match still kind of smarts. Tottenham Hotspur went to the East Midlands to take on Leicester City and muddled their way to another draw on Saturday. While it wasn't all bad, overall it was another disappointing match from Spurs that highlighted the same basic problems that we identified in this team from last season.
That's not to say that there weren't positives to take from the match. Spurs found a way to (eventually) break down a bunkered defense, and while they surrendered another lead, it was because of a collective mental breakdown, and not because they crapped the bed for the last 20 minutes.
So this week's rankings should be familiar to most of the commentariat, because they're things we reference in comments and articles frequently. Here are the CFC writing staff's Tottenham Hotspur player rankings, to the theme of Cartilage Free Captain inside jokes.
5 Stars – FRAAB
This one goes back a ways, but I love it. Mostly because I invented it. Short for "F**kin' run around a bit," Harry Redknapp's infamous coaching instruction to Roman Pavlyuchenko back in 2008, it quickly became synonymous with Redknapp Spurs sides' (lack of) tactical discipline. We still use it here. We still love it. It's the tactical equivalent of that "WILDCARD, B***HES" scene in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Dele Alli: Dele Alli was a breath of fresh air against Leicester. Coming in for a mostly-ineffectual Erik Lamela in the 65th minute, he played centrally in the hole and added a youthful exuberance to the side that it was missing up to that point. Lively, mentally aware, and forward-thinking, Alli wasn't afraid to try stuff, and his run into the box was perfectly timed. He earned his goal. A shame it couldn't have been the match winner. Hopefully he starts next week.
Harry Kane: Yes, yes, he didn't score, seemed to disappear, yadda yadda yadda. Kane was amazing, and the only reason he didn't have more opportunities was due to the collective failure of the midfielders playing behind him. Of his two best chances, one came via a goal kick from Hugo Lloris, and the other came after Kane use the truck-stick on three guys in the box but couldn't connect squarely on his shot. Kane is hella strong, with fantastic spatial awareness and an amazing footballing brain. Those people who are already chanting "OVERRATED" online can suck it.
4 Stars – Gary Rootbeer
OK, so this one takes a little explanation for those who haven't been around for very long. Back in 2012, Tottenham played and defeated Stevenage in the FA Cup fifth round. During the match, CFC writer The Sleeper's Sleep wrote in the writer's room that he could've sworn he heard the announcer reference a player named "Gary Rootbeer." We thought that was hilarious. Soon, Gary Rootbeer became the name for every Stevenage player (and its manager), then every non-league player we've never heard of. I'm still looking for a cheap Stevenage kit so I can put ROOTBEER on the back of it to complete my nerd-cred about a joke that literally 100 people in the world will get.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo is still amazing. There was nothing he could've done about Mahrez's goal, but whether he was aware of King's header into his chest or not it was still a fantastic save. His distribution was better this week, too. Four stars is almost the default ranking for Hugo, which tells you just how fantastic he is.
Ryan Mason: Another very solid outing from Ryan Mason, who has seemingly proved his detractors from last year wrong and is putting in assured shifts in the center of midfield. A lot of it, I think, is helped by having a defensive shield in Eric Dier beside him which helps mitigate things when Mason goes a-roaming. Mason looks like he gets it this season, and while I still cringe at him on occasion, overall I've been quite happy with his development. Long may it continue.
Eric Dier: We still need a defensive midfielder. Eric Dier is not a defensive midfielder. But man, he sure does put in some tidy shifts. Dier's passing was great on Saturday, if not very dynamic -- most of his passing was lateral or back-passes, but he was a stable presence in midfield, and with his ability to drop deep into central defense had some good clearances as well. We might still buy a defensive midfielder like Victor Wanyama, but Eric Dier has proven already that we'll be in at least passable hands if we don't.
3 Stars – Modric Replacement / J-Rod Role
Why do we keep coming back to these two memes? Because we still haven't really filled either position. A player like Luka Modric with his world-class vision and passing is irreplaceable, and we never did sign our "Luka Modric replacement" though we tried. As for the J-Rod role, I guess that's Nacer Chadli? Or maybe it's Clinton N'Jie? Or maybe we should just drop both of these memes since we'll never find people who aren't Modric or Rodriguez who can do what they do?
Toby Alderweireld: Toby wasn't outstanding against Leicester, but neither was he poor. He seemed to play it safe against a mostly bunkered defense, as the vast majority of his passes were lateral to the wingers instead of up the pitch, but he had eight clearances and didn't look at any point like he'd lost the plot.
Nacer Chadli: A typical Nacer Chadli match where he didn't do anything particularly noteworthy or interesting for the entire match and then put in the assist that led to Dele Alli's goal. That gets him three stars but still makes me want to bang my head on the table. He's terrible until he's brilliant. It's so weird and frustrating and awesome.
Mousa Dembele: On a day where none of the attacking midfielders were really showing much dynamism, Dembele was probably put in the most even performance of the lot. He created a chance, had two long shots from outside the box saved, and despite an early yellow card was decent enough in the press.
2.5 Stars – THE
Never has a meme been so closely tied to failure and bad luck. Another one coined by The Sleeper's Sleep, THE came about during the whole Leandro Damiao debacle after he wrote an article about definite articles and Spurs' need for a striker. Since then, anyone tagged with "THE" has seemingly failed, or disappeared, to the extent that THE is now considered the kiss of doom. Please don't tag Harry Kane as THE.
Erik Lamela: The good news is that Erik Lamela wasn't a dumpster fire like he was against Stoke City. The bad news is that he wasn't particularly good, either. Lamela played centrally as a direct replacement for the injured Christian Eriksen and was mostly ineffective at his job. I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt here. I'm trying to have faith. Erik's making it very hard.
2 Stars – We're All Kevin
No we're not. I reject the premise. ONE K. MCCAULEY... THERE'S ONLY ONE K. MCCAULEY... ONE K. MCCAUUUUUULEEEEEEEEY... THERE' S ONLY ONE K. MCCAAAAAAAAULEEEEEEEEEEY...
Jan Vertonghen: A terrible match for Super Jan. He looked poor and off the boil, got terrorized by Mahrez for Leicester's goal, and his body language was just crap. Do I want to drop him? Naaah. Just a bad day at the office, but Lord, that wasn't pretty.
Ben Davies & Kyle Walker: Lumping these two together in a generic "Tottenham's fullbacks were crap" rating. Walker was fast, but his defensive positioning was shocking at times, and I'm starting to wonder what Kieran Trippier could do for us. I felt kind of bad for Davies, as he was absolutely skinned by Riyad Mahrez over and over again. Mahrez is a fantastic player, but if Davies is in there over Rose for his defense, he didn't acquit himself well enough to justify his continued starts.
Tom Carroll: In about 15 minutes of action, Tom Carroll's single contribution was to pass the ball out of bounds. I expect more from you, English Xavi.
NR: Nabil Bentaleb. Nabil played for two minutes and did not have an impact on the match.
1 Star – Facebook Videos
This is a dumb meme from a dumb AT&T commercial applied to a dumb situation in the comments. It's dumb, dumb, dumb. Much like that Leicester match.
None of Tottenham's players were as bad as the Facebook Videos inside joke.