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Sunderland vs. Tottenham: match ratings to the theme of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters

Yep, I'm going there.

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I'm going to get mocked for this post and called names like "brony" and "immature" and "jerk." (Oh, wait, that's just what my kids call me). Don't even care. When you have 10- and 7-year old children, you will invariably find yourself watching a lot of cartoons. I consider myself an expert on Thomas and Friends. I've watched the entire run of Star Wars: Rebels. And yes, I've watched a lot of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

And you know what? It's pretty good. While there are cartoons that make your brain bleed (looking at you, Special Agent OSO, Dora the Explorer, and Fireman Sam), MLP:FIM isn't one of them. For starters, it's exceedingly well-written. Secondly, it gives a nod and a wink to the adult audience that invariably watches it. And finally, it has a positive message, mixed with fantasy elements, and employs some pretty cool guest voice actors.

Now, it certainly gets a bad name from the furries, cosplayers, and bronies that haunt conventions and online message boards. And there was that one guy who married Twilight Sparkle. Those people are idiots. But dang it, in the spectrum of obviously kid-oriented cartoons, this show is pretty close to the top, and I tip my hat to it.

Also, I was stuck for a theme this week.

So today's theme is undoubtedly going to generate some mockery and snide comments. Whatever. Come at me, haters. Here's the CFC masthead's Tottenham Hotspur match ratings to the theme of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

5 stars: Rainbow Dash

Rainbow Dash kicks ass and is best pony. She gets probably the second most screen time next to Twilight Sparkle, and usually gets the best storylines as well. Her character – a tomboyish, brazen, arrogant, speedy pegasus – is a little archetypal, sure, but it is a cartoon. And the sheer force of her personality makes her my favorite character on the show. Forget the other ponies, I'd watch an entire show about Dash.

Eric Dier: Calm, composed, and extremely efficient, Eric Dier was hands down Tottenham's best player against Sunderland. Even during the first 60 minutes of the match when Tottenham played like trash, Dier was the midfield anchor. He is, and I say this without the slightest sense of irony, everything we hoped for in a defensive midfield signing at this point, and he didn't cost us anything.

4 stars: Discord

Undoubtedly the best recurring antagonists of the series, Discord is a chaotic neutral dragonish... thing that pops up to sow chaos in the lives of Ponyville. This makes for some truly fantastic animated sequences as completely random (and hilarious) things pop up all the time when Discord's around. He's invariably defeated by the magic of friendship, but his episodes are a lot of fun to watch. Plus, he's voiced by John de Lancie, otherwise known as "Q" to Star Trek nerds.

Ryan Mason: Ryan Mason was very good on Sunday. He wasn't perfect (who is?), but paired alongside Dier he showed off for the most part the best qualities that he brings to this Tottenham offense and without most of the mishaps that he showed at times last season. There's things I could nitpick about his game, but why? His forward run for the winning goal was outstanding and that more than makes up for any ills. Another very solid outing for Ryan, and I'm pleased to be able to say that.

Erik Lamela: It's hard to describe how glad I am to be able to put Erik Lamela at this ranking. After a few disastrous matches and a deadline day where he was nearly sold, Erik came on as midfield relief and was a big part of why Spurs played so much better the last 30 minutes of the match. He was positionally aware, hard working, had a header attempt on goal, and mah gawd that pass to Mason! I hope this match is the turning point for Erik.

Andros Townsend: Honestly, I groaned inwardly when Andros came on, because I've seen this movie before, right? But I was wrong. Andros was delightful on Sunday, providing width and pace on the right (!) side of midfield, and putting in some very nice crosses. It was an excellent decision by Pochettino to throw him on as a sub: he changed the game.

Jan Vertonghen: Calm and composed in defense, I thought Jan handled the back line quite admirably. Keeping a clean sheet against a team that can spring Jermain Defoe and Jeremain Lens at you on the counter isn't easy, but Jan rarely put a foot wrong.

Hugo Lloris: Hugo didn't really have all that much to do, quite honestly. He was Default Hugo Lloris,™ but four stars is pretty much where you put Default Hugo Lloris™ so that's what I'm doing.

3 stars: Twilight Sparkle

Why so low? Twilight Sparkle is the axis around which the entire show revolves. It's primarily her story. Most of the main story arcs are about her, and her tutelage by Princess Celestia and subsequent research on friendship is the backbone of the entire series. But as a character, she's pretty bland. She's a goody-two-shoes pony, magically adept but generally clueless about anything that isn't intellectual or about theoretical magic. Which makes her similar to a lot of Ph.Ds that I know, honestly.

Son Heung-Min: Let's just say it: Son wasn't that great on Sunday. He looked, well, like he didn't know his teammates very well. Which is both fair and accurate. But he didn't set the world on fire in his first match: so what? He'll be fine. You could see glimmers of what made him a star at Bayer Leverkusen, and I have absolutely zero doubts that he's going to be a star for Tottenham Hotspur.

Harry Kane: Not the best of matches for Kane. He scuffed a shot from six yards out that normally he'd bury, and showed some questionable decision making at times, especially in the first half when he'd opt for a low-percentage shot rather than trying to find an open teammate. But he was directly involved in the passing sequence that led to the goal, and he's still Harry Kane. Harry needs a goal to go in off his ass and then he'll be off to the races.

Dele Alli: This will seem harsh to a lot of readers, as for that opening half Alli seemed to be the only player that was actually trying to do stuff and making this happen offensively. And he played well! But ironically, it wasn't until he was subbed off that Spurs started playing its best football. I'm not at all worried about Alli. He was fine. I'd like to see more of him.

Ben Davies: I'm still not sure why Ben Davies was playing over Danny Rose. Tactical decision? Injury? It's not that he was awful, but it seems like this would've been a match better suited to Rose's offensive acumen. It's not really Ben's fault. He was perfectly acceptable, if not particularly noteworthy.

Toby Alderweireld: Toby didn't have a particularly good match compared to Jan, and he got torched on more than one occasion by Jermain Defoe. I said this in the match day comments, and I'll say it again here: if you're playing Jermain Defoe, you have to know that he makes his living off the back shoulder of the central defenders. That said, I'm not going to heap too much crap on Toby, because Defoe made his mark in the EPL doing to opposition defenders exactly what he did to Toby in this match. Toby will learn from this and get better; there aren't many strikers who are better at what Defoe does than Defoe.

2.5 stars: Applejack

Applejack? Meh. I suppose when you're dealing with a show that is this heavy handed at times with character archetypes – and it is a children's cartoon, after all – then if you're going to do a southern country pony you'll have one that wears a hat, speaks in folksy idioms in a bad southern accent and yells YEE-HAW a lot. I mostly just think she's boring.

Nacer Chadli: I could make the usual joke about Chadli doing absolutely nothing for the entire match before popping out of nowhere to score.  But the truth is while he was pretty terrible for the majority of the match, absent and wasteful, he stepped his game up considerably in the last 20 minutes. He didn't score so it's not enough to bump him up to the 3-star level, but let's give him some small credit here.

2 stars:  Spike

I don't like Spike. Superfluous, irritating, and ingratiating, he's a sidekick and research associate to Twilight. And sidekicks are annoying. Plus he carries some deep-seated paranoia issues and generally manages to screw up more often than not. Spike sucks and the show would be better without him. But then, who would be the lightning rod for the consequences of bad decisions? Every show needs a fall guy.

Kyle Walker: Kyle was bad on Sunday. There's just no getting around it. He was regularly terrorized by the likes of Fabio Borini and Jeremain Lens and while he should've had a penalty shout early in the match he wasn't really able to get anything forward offensively either. I think we're past the point where it's time to see what Kieran Trippier can do in Pochettino's offense.

1 star:  Cutie Mark Crusaders

UGH. The worst. The Crusaders are school-age ponies that are "neices" or "sisters" or something to the main pony characters and whose prime motivations are to somehow figure out how to get their "cutie mark,"  a pictorial representation of their primary talent. Apparently, ponies without them are like junior high students who haven't hit puberty or something. They're the B-roll of the series, and their escapades are invariably spun out into several episodes of padding per season (or so I can gather) where they trot out that old cartoon trope of screwing everything the f**k up before either coming clean or having the consequences of their actions wiped away via some convenient deus ex machina. Ship 'em to the glue factory.

None of Tottenham Hotspur's players were as bad as the Cutie Mark Crusaders.

DNR: Tom Carroll