Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Tottenham Hotspur went to Stamford Bridge and lost. But it wasn’t all terrible! It was, in truth, a better overall performance than what we’ve seen from Spurs in recent weeks, and despite the loss there are positive things to hang your hat on.
The Cartilage Free Captain writers room has recently been overrun with discussion about the new Gilmore Girls miniseries. So when we were discussing what theme to use for the player ratings, this one shot to the top of the pile. This Gilmore Girls revival clearly has become a cultural touchstone for many in my generation who remember the show fondly; Twitter is awash with discussion at present.
That said, I (Dustin) have only watched ten minutes of a single episode of Gilmore Girls and hated it. Clearly you won’t want my takes on Rory’s love life. So we turned to Pardeep Cattry, one of the Gilmore Girls experts on staff (there’s more than one!), to rank the Tottenham Hotspur players to the theme of Rory’s boyfriends over the course of the series.
5 stars: Paris
No one was as good as she was in the series, and Rory is probably silly to not actually fawn over Paris more instead of those silly boyfriends of hers. But Rory isn't good enough for Paris, and well, no one on Spurs reached Paris qualities either against Chelsea on Saturday.
While this was an improved performance against a very good Chelsea team, no one player played at the peak of their ability. Sorry.
4 stars: Jess
A problematic kid when we first met Jess, he gained Stars Hollow's hatred before leaving town. Next time we saw him, he turned out to be well off in his career in book publishing and writing and other book stuff that Rory (and fans of the show) really like. Much like Jess, these players turned out to be favorites on Saturday.
Mousa Dembele: Moose had a monster first half against Chelsea and only started to fall off in the second half once he was pushed forward into a more attacking midfield role. His passing was excellent, as was his tackling and positioning. Had a few giveaways in the second half, but he was matched up against N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, and he got past them more than he lost the ball. He was quite good.
Kyle Walker: Walker was without question the best player in Tottenham’s defensive line against Chelsea. Kept Alonzo and Hazard more or less contained and was his usual dynamic outlet going forward.
3.5 stars: Robert
Okay, so Robert wasn't really ever Rory's boyfriend. But he was nice enough to have not committed any major offenses in the one episode he did date Rory, so that basically counts as a good thing! He dressed up for the Quentin Tarantino party, so he at least tried, and his attempt wasn't bad, much like these Spurs players.
Christian Eriksen: Was outstanding in the first half, with a cracker of a goal. Faded a bit in the second when Chelsea were bunkering with a lead, but an overall solid game.
Jan Vertonghen: Did well to cope with Chelsea’s scoring threats. Might have been slightly complicit in Moses’ goal in the second half, but that was a screw-up of mammoth proportions. Did well under difficult circumstances overall.
GK N’Koudou: Without question Spurs’ most dynamic offensive player in the second half. Used ball skills and pace to create opportunities. He’s still raw and his final ball and crossing let him down, but you can see the potential there. He needs more game time.
Harry Winks: Winksy was a stabilizing presence as a second half substitute. Didn’t do anything particularly outstanding, but he also didn’t give the ball away a ton beside Wanyama. Was very secure in possession.
3 stars: Paul
Paul was a forgettable boyfriend, even to the point where I actually forgot about him in the brainstorming process. Same goes for these players - they were nice, but nothing special.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo had one super scary outlet pass that Chelsea very nearly capitalized on, which continues the narrative thread that his distribution is the worst part of his game. Otherwise, he had no chance on Chelsea’s two goals and was fine otherwise.
Eric Dier: The early battles between Dier and Diego Costa was one of the highlights of the match for me. You can argue that Dier gave Pedro too much space to fire in his goal, but it was a worldy, so whatever. Still prefer him in midfield.
Dele Alli: Decent, but not great. Alli didn’t really make his mark on the match apart from a decent chance on goal in the 2nd half. Still doesn’t look fit.
Victor Wanyama: I still don’t especially like Wanyama in a two-man pivot, but he did okay in the position on Saturday. Looked strong defensively in the early goings, but held back in his passing like he was really trying to rein it in and play conservatively. That made him hesitant, and Chelsea at times took advantage.
Harry Kane: I dunno, he was ok. Had an early goal called back for offside, and worked his butt off like he does, but Chelsea did a good job of marking him out of the match. You expect him to score in a London derby now, so it was disappointing that he didn’t.
2 stars: Logan
You could make the argument that Logan ruined Rory by bringing out her worst qualities and exaggerating them to a point of no return. Alas, similar things can be said of these players, too.
Son Heung-Min: Yikes. Wasteful, sloppy, and very much a headless chicken in the attacking third, even when Spurs were playing well in the first half. Don’t know what happened. Is he still playing with an injury?
Kevin Wimmer: If we’re grading on the Not A Left Back Curve™, Wimmer was... not great, but not catastrophic. But without that curve, he was pretty awful. Had no idea how to push forward on the flank which led to some hilarious 20-yard back passes. He was basically playing as a third wide-ish central defender and only went wide when he needed to, which left his flank hilariously open. Was sucked to the right side of the box on Chelsea’s second, leaving Victor Moses wide open for that goal. (Yes, that play was a clusterf**k all around and you can certainly argue that he was in the right to leave his position and cover another marker, but yeeeeesh.) He’s not a left back and hopefully we never see him there again.
1 star: Dean
Sure, Dean was nice from a distance, but up close, he was not compatible with Rory. He spent most of the time demanding attention from Rory and complaining that he wasn't good enough for her, while missing the point of any cultural reference Rory made, a staple of a Gilmore girl's identity.
Luckily for Spurs, no players met the Dean level of bad.