Tottenham Hotspur did great on Sunday! Really, really super good, which makes writing match ratings posts much more fun than when we lose. That's not to say that we won't still argue, bicker over small details, and generally accuse the masthead of #groupthink. I mean, we have an image to maintain, right?
A couple of weeks ago I re-watched "Casino Royale," the first Daniel Craig-led James Bond movie, and the first in the rebooted Bond franchise, and it got me thinking: while I'm no Bond aficionado, over the years I've seen just about every Bond movie at least once. Or at least I've seen enough 007 movies by all the Bond actors to get a pretty good feel for how they stack up. I don't think this is too controversial, but y'all are a saucy lot and I'm sure you'll find things to argue about.
So here are the match ratings for the Crystal Palace match, to the theme of James Bond actors.
5 stars: Sean Connery
Duh. Did you think I was going to lead off with anything else? For most fans of Bond, Sean Connery IS James Bond, and there's no substitute. So effectively did Connery play 007 and so talismanic were his performances, that I still can't watch many Sean Connery movies without thinking "That's James Bond playing Indiana Jones' father," or "Wow, Connery really plays Richard the Lionhearted like Bond." Smug, arrogant, and charming, nobody said "Bond... James Bond" quite like Connery. Connery's films also gave us some of the all-time best villains, like Goldfinger and Ernst Stavro Blofeld. He's James Bond's Bond, and I raise my vodka martini to him.
Son Heung-Min: Fantastic. That's really all I have to say. He worked his tail off, showed a lot of skill (and strength) on the ball, and got the match winner. So far, Sonny looks like one of the best signings of the transfer window, and a bargain. He's my Man of the Match.
Erik Lamela: Lamela got trashed on Spurs Twitter during and after the match. Those people, sorry, are idiots. Lamela was fantastic on Sunday. He was a workhorse (which he usually is) but showed a good vision, ambitious passing, and he pressed the hell out of the Palace midfield. His tackle, skill dribbles, and pass to Christian Eriksen were what set up Son's counterattack goal. Sure, he had a couple of errant passes, but he earned this rating, and I will hear no counterargument!
4.5 stars: Daniel Craig
Surprise! Daniel Craig is a very different Bond from Connery's, but I absolutely love his take on the character. Craig's Bond is younger, inexperienced, wracked (at times) with self-doubt, and tends to make more mistakes than his predecessors in the roles, but he trusts his abilities and knows how to kick ass when needed. Casino Royale and Skyfall are two of the best Bond films in the past 25 years (though Quantum of Solace was a stinker), and a couple more excellent Bond movies may just put him within spitting distance of Connery.
Dele Alli: I said this in the match reaction thread, but I though Alli had a very good, if a little uneven, performance. The last 25 minutes of the match he was sublime, but some of the things he was trying to do from midfield didn't always pan out in the first half. But that's okay: when you have a 19-year old central midfielder who was playing in League 1 last season and is trying some audacious and ambitious s**t from his position, I'm willing to forgive him if it doesn't always pan out perfectly. You could see what he was trying to do, and more often than not it worked well enough.
4 stars: Timothy Dalton
This is probably the hottest of the takes in this article. Timothy Dalton gets the nod over Pierce Brosnan in the Battle of the '80s-'90s Bonds because Dalton was an attempt to play a grittier, more realistic 007, i.e. what Daniel Craig perfected. I liked Dalton's performances, even though his movies were pretty cheeseball. Craig had, for the most part, better material to work with, but Dalton is I think the most underrated Bond actor. He carries that same gravitas in his current role on Showtime's Penny Dreadful, too.
Eric Dier: Dier was the perfect partner for Alli in central midfield, because his resolute defending from just in front of the defenders was what gave Alli the freedom to try stuff. Dier has, thus far, proven to me that he's more than capable in that position, and might even be better than many of the defensive mids that we tried to sign this past summer. Wish we had a capable backup for him, though.
Christian Eriksen: In his first appearance since going down injured early in the season, Eriksen changed the match. You could instantly see a difference in Spurs' offensive efficiency when he came on for the largely ineffectual Nacer Chadli. He had the assist for Son's goal, and his creativity were what sparked Spurs' play in the last segment of the match. Boy, did we ever miss him.
Hugo Lloris: Another fine match for Hugo. He didn't have a whole lot to do, but he was seriously tested on a couple of occasions on shots from Yannick Bolasie and Yohann Cabaye, and came through with flying colors. A few nice diving saves, too, including that one that he tipped off the post.
Ben Davies: Before the Qarabag match, most Spurs fans probably wanted Danny Rose to play in this match, but the grumbling stopped after Danny's horror-show against the Horsemen. And Davies did very well today! He provided a good amount of width and ranged forward a little more than I'm used to seeing from him, which was nice. And he showed good awareness in heading in a goal that was somewhat dubiously called back for offside interference.
3 stars: Pierce Brosnan
I've always liked Brosnan's smarmy Bond with the underwear model good looks, and Goldeneye was a great Bond movie for its day, but the overall camp factor in Brosnan's movies harkens back a little too much to the early 1980s. Brosnan certainly LOOKED like a Bond, though he gets docked a full star for that godawful "I thought Christmas only comes once a year" line from The World is Not Enough. UGH.
Toby Alderweireld & Jan Vertonghen: Putting them both in one listing because while they were both solid enough, neither of them did anything to differentiate themselves from the other one. Which isn't a criticism! Since Palace spent much of the match bunkered and playing on the counter, neither Jan nor Toby were especially troubled for much of the match. Things got a little hairy toward the end of the match, but both of our CBs handled it well. Solid games.
Clinton N'Jie: Clinton was a second half substitute and comported himself well. It's tough to get a read on him quite yet since we haven't had a whole lot of game footage with which to evaluate him. He gets a default three star for this reason: not exceptional, not terrible. Hopefully we'll see more of Clinton in the North London Derby on Wednesday.
Nacer Chadli: I know what you're thinking, but while Chadli didn't score on Sunday he was much more involved in the run of play than in the past couple of matches, and even contributed to the press. A decent enough match for him, though it's worth noting how much Spurs' offense improved the moment he came off and Eriksen came on.
Kyle Walker: I forgot to include Kyle Walker in the first draft of this article! Which tells you pretty much all you need to know about his game. I kid: Walker was fine. He was not outstanding, but not a tire fire. This was pretty much your average Kyle Walker match, which means some decent moves going forward combined with occasionally getting lost on defensive positioning.
2 stars: Roger Moore
This may make some Bond aficionados' heads explode, but while Roger Moore acted in more Bond movies than anyone else, they got super ridiculous by the end of Moore's run. Moore's Bond was always too reliant on campy gadgets and Deus ex Machinas, and the plots of his movies were more ridiculous than sublime. Moore's movies did give us Jaws and Oddjob, but go back and watch Moonraker sometimes. On rewatch, it's pretty lol.
Harry Kane: Yep, I'm doing it. It may feel a little harsh, since Kane was pretty well involved in the second half by dropping deep and pressing the daylights out of Brede Hangeland and Damien Delaney, but Kane was overall pretty poor. He fluffed that wide open header than he really should've buried, and spent much of his offensive chances taking ill-advised, low percentage shots instead of looking for open teammates. He's trying SO HARD and you can tell he really wants to score so badly, but he's just forcing it right now. He needs an arm around the shoulder. The goals will come, but he needs to stop worrying about it.
1 star: George Lazenby
Who hired this guy? Now, I know, it's tough to follow in Connery's footsteps, but here's a guy who was signed originally to a seven picture Bond deal, and he stepped down after only one, which tells you something. Some people call On Her Majesty's Secret Service one of the more underrated Bond films in the franchise, but I think those people are just hipsters. I tried watching it; I couldn't even finish it. BORED NOW.
Nobody on Tottenham Hotspur was as bad as George Lazenby in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
DNR: Tom Carroll
Tom came in at the tail end of the match and didn't do enough to get a rating.