Tottenham Hotspur played very well on Saturday. This much is undeniable. So while we could allow you all to obsess over whether or not Nacer Chadli played better or worse than Clinton N'Jie in their substitute roles (worse), instead I'm going to throw you a bone and give you a theme that's bound to cause no shortage of discussion, arguments, and virtual fisticuffs: Pixar movies.
We love them. Few of them are bad. But there are 15 Pixar movies and only five star levels, so I'm going to have to do some reductionism here in the name of science. And ranking. Yes, this means I'm undoubtedly going to leave out your favorite Pixar movie. And I haven't yet seen Inside Out so that isn't even under consideration. Just because I don't list a movie under a particular star doesn't mean I don't think it's worth watching. Deal with it. Here are your Tottenham Hotspur match ratings to the theme of Pixar movies.
5 stars: Toy Story
OK, it was really hard to pick between the three Toy Story movies for top honors, and most people are going to yell at me for not putting Toy Story 3 (or 2) here, but I'm going with the original. Sure, two decades later the animation is dated, the songs are clunky, and we're all probably tired of watching it by now. Don't care. This was a groundbreaking animated film and it still holds up even today in the face of much more lavish animated features. This movie, with its stellar voice acting and its heart-tugging storyline, set the bar for all future animated films, and probably will for the foreseeable future.
Erik Lamela: If the Stoke City game was rock bottom for Erik Lamela, by now he should have thoroughly proven that he's worth keeping around. This was by far Lamela's best match of the season, and possibly the best of his tenure at Tottenham. Lamela was essential to Spurs' win on Saturday, working doggedly in the press to harry opponents, winning the ball back, and setting up teammates. He had the assist to Toby Alderweireld's goal, and his own goal was equally impressive. The Lamela of last season would've bottled that chance; this time he cooly rounded Willy Caballero and Martin DeMichelis like they weren't there. A MOTM performance for our Argentine.
Eric Dier: Yet another resolute performance from our young defensive midfielder. He displayed a commanding presence in midfield against Yaya Toure, who is known for feasting on inexperienced central midfielders. Never mind Kyle Walker's offside position – Dier's goal was well-struck and perfectly placed. He earned it.
Toby Alderweireld: Sergio Aguero is a Spurs defense destroyer, but Toby was not only up to the challenge, he thrived in his match up against last year's Golden Boot winner. That Aguero had so many blocked shots is a credit to Toby (and Jan Vertonghen's) stout defending, and Toby also did well to direct Lamela's free kick into the back of the net. Well-earned plaudits for our newest central defender.
4 stars: The Incredibles
Brad Bird didn't make an animated kid's movie about superheros. He made a great movie about superheroes that happened to be animated. If not for the amazing Toy Story franchise, The Incredibles would shoot to the top of this list. It's in every sense a remarkably well-made film, with flawed characters, a detailed plot that keeps you guessing, and enough action sequences to rival any Michael Bay film. The plot doesn't dumb anything down for kids, but I don't know any kids that don't like this movie. Brad Bird is an incredible director, and the only bad thing I have to say about The Incredibles is that they haven't yet made a sequel.
Hugo Lloris: Two monster stops that kept City from breaking the game open in the first half, including a brilliant palmed-away block on Raheem Sterling. A few issues with distribution in this match, but overall a very, very good game from Hugo.
Jan Vertonghen: Toby's goal bumps him up a tier, but Jan was equally impressive in defense. It's wonderful how quickly Jan and Toby have meshed as a defensive unit, considering neither of them play central defense for Belgium.
Dele Alli: Dele Alli is 19 years old. Nineteen. And he's already becoming a key player in Tottenham's midfield. Alli looked solid paired with Dier when Spurs had the lead, and looked equally comfortable moving higher up the pitch when Spurs were trying to find an equalizer. He was dominant in central midfield in the second half.
Harry Kane: Finally! Kane broke his duck with a well-timed put-back in the second half, and you could see the relief on his face. But more than that, Kane looked more like the Kane we remember from last season, dropping deep and holding up the ball, playing balls into his teammates, and carving out shot opportunities. He's back, baby.
Christian Eriksen: It still looks like Christian might still be slightly off the boil as he returns to match fitness, but he still added a healthy dose of creativity and attacking nous that Spurs have been missing in the last several matches. His free kick off the crossbar was a thing of beauty, and I'm okay that he missed it because it set up Harry Kane. Solid match.
Ben Davies: Davies continues to show why he's (for now) eclipsed Danny Rose as first choice left back for Tottenham. He was solid defensively and continued to push higher up the field than what we normally expect from him. He's still not especially great in the air, but he's got the skills and the pace to hang with opposition forwards and wide players. Right now, the job's his to lose.
3.5 stars: Monsters Inc.
I love this movie. Sure, at it's heart it's a story of compassion, but its subtext is a morality play on the world's dependence on oil and the use of dwindling natural resources in the face of new, clean technology. A pretty simple story but with some outstanding set pieces and an all-star cast. Also, I love Billy Crystal in this movie and I don't care who knows it.
Clinton N'Jie: Some would say 13 minutes of action isn't enough to fully rate Clinton. I respectfully disagree. In that 13 minutes Clinton not only showed off his ridiculous pace, but had some great skill moves, tortured City's back line, and got an assist. He was great.
3 stars: Up / Ratatouille
Two movies share the middling honors. I know Up is beloved by many people, and while it has its moments it just never really connected with me. It's okay, I guess, but it's neither as clever as The Incredibles or (quite) as emotional as Finding Nemo. It's a good movie. It's fine. It's just not great. As for Ratatouille, I am actually extremely fond of it and consider it to be one of the best movies about food ever made, but it's closer to an art film than it is to a kids movie.
Nacer Chadli: The Chadli hate is alive? Naaah. He was fine yesterday in a substitute role, and looked much more involved defensively with Spurs nursing a lead than what I'm used to seeing from him. He didn't score, but he also quite possibly had a goal stolen from him. A good outing.
Son Heung-Min: Son has a ridiculous motor, and while he didn't reach the dizzying heights he displayed last weekend, he was a solid contributor and had a goal called back for offside. Let's put it this way: we didn't need Sonny to win this match, and that speaks well to what the rest of the team brought to the table.
Kyle Walker: A tale of two halves for Kyle. His redonkulous pass set up City's counterattack and goal in the 25th minute, but apart from that one (pretty egregious) derp, he was pretty solid, especially in the second half. If he doesn't screw up and gift De Bruyne a goal, he probably gets a four start rating overall. Oh well.
2 stars: Brave
I wanted to like Brave. I really did. But I just can't. Finally Pixar deals with "the woman protagonist problem" in its movies and it gives us a slap-dash, undercooked plot full of improbable imbroglios that could be easily explained away if only Merida would actually say "HEY DAD ME MAM WAS MAGICKED INTO A BEAR HALP." I expected something so much better from the previews than what I got, which was a standard "your parents really do love you" coming-of-age-story with a thin veneer of female empowerment. So much potential, so little substance.
Mark Clattenburg and staff: Holy crap was that a poorly officiated match. Did Spurs directly benefit from Clattenburg's linesman apparently having their arms stapled to their sides during this game? Undoubtedly. That doesn't mean I'm going to give them a pass for some poor officiating. Clattenburg doesn't get off either, as he without question should've sent DeMichelis off for a second yellow midway through the second half. Have fun refereeing in League Two next weekend, Mark.
1 star: Cars 2
I'll admit it: as the parent of a 7-year old boy, I have a very soft spot in my heart for the original Cars movie. Sure, it's basically "Doc Hollywood" animated and starring cars, but it's a well-done film that is bearable over many (MANY) rewatches. Cars 2? Trash. A dumb plot that centers around Mater rather than Lightning and devolves into a ridiculous spy thriller with auto racing as a backdrop, it is neither original, nor even remotely interesting. It's by far the worst movie Pixar has ever made, and I'm not sure there's anything that's even close to it. Fire Cars 2 into the sun.
No Tottenham players were as bad as Cars 2. Thank Christ.
DNR: Tom Carroll
Someday I hope to give Tom Carroll a match rating. But he has to play more than five minutes for that to happen.