Who doesn't love pirates? I've been watching a lot of Black Sails on Starz lately (which I really enjoy) and it struck me how pervasive the archetype of the Caribbean pirate is in our modern-day society. Cast your mind back to the influence of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Now suddenly we have pirates everywhere, including as mascots for Major League Baseball and NFL teams. Pirates were very real and very scary, but the fictional pirate mythos that has sprung up around their real-life counterparts is, perhaps, even more compelling in a Victorian romantic sense than the real thing
It's not like Tottenham Hotspur stole the victory away from Manchester City on Sunday, though City fans might argue otherwise after that penalty call on Raheem Sterling. But since I'm in a piratey mood today anyway, let's go ahead and rank the Tottenham Hotspur players to the theme of fictional pirates. YARRRR.
5 Stars: Dread Pirate Roberts
He's the ultimate pirate success story: he bootstrapped his way up the chain of command from lowly cabin boy with a broken heart to the scourge of Guilder. He's the best sword fighter in the realm, he's quick with the witty repartee, he commands his crew with (one surmises) ruthless efficiency, and he gets the girl in the end. Erroll Flynn's got nothing on this guy.
Toby Alderweireld: Manchester City have some scary offensive talent, but Toby coped extremely well with the challenge. Alderweireld shadowed Aguero well, not giving him much, and contained Sterling and Silva ably. Combine his defensive prowess with more wonderful long balls from the back and it's no wonder some are calling him the best central defender in the Premier League.
Erik Lamela: Putting Erik Lamela into the match was a tactical master stroke. He was an injection of energy into a tired side. Erik's decision to take the ball in midfield and go straight at City's defense led to Otamendi overcommitting, which sprung Eriksen on one of his regular runs into the box. And his pass was inch-perfect. He may have just played himself back into the league starting lineup.
4 Stars: Long John Silver
The pirate archetype to end all pirate archetypes, complete with peg leg and parrot. Silver's been portrayed so many different ways over the years but in the original Treasure Island he's opportunistic, blindingly charismatic, and excellent liar, and incredibly clever, but not especially fierce or terrifying. However, Silver, more than any other character, cast the mold for what came after him.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo came up with a couple of absolutely mind-bending stops down the stretch to preserve the win, but it wasn't all perfect: Hugo should consider himself lucky that Aguero's finishing was off on Sunday, and he was well beaten on a shot that went off the crossbar in the first half. This is more a statement on Manchester City than it is on Hugo. He did very well on Sunday.
Christian Eriksen: Eriksen was easily the best performer of the four players who started the match in the forward attacking band. The birthday boy showed great vision by timing his forward run into the box perfectly to meet Lamela's pass, and slotted home a great match winning goal. Boy, is he fun to watch.
Kevin Wimmer: We said last week that this match was the biggest test for Kevin's burgeoning partnership with Toby Alderweireld. Well, he passed with flying colors, defending Aguero well and doing exactly what he needed to do to preserve the win. Got yellow-carded for a dumb tackle, and his biggest fault is that he simply isn't Jan Vertonghen, but that's nit-picking. You couldn't have asked for much more from a central defender on Sunday.
3.5 Stars: One-Eyed Willy
The best pirates are the ones that can continue to scare you even from beyond the grave. Enter One-Eyed Willy, the long-dead pirate captain from The Goonies. This guy was obviously a bad-ass, since he managed to not only hide a pirate ship on the eastern seaboard, but also rig up an elaborate system of traps that would last 200 years, leave clues to its whereabouts, kill off the rest of his crew, and die alone in his stateroom surrounded by his hoard. I want a Goonies prequel that tells his back-story.
Kyle Walker: Did extremely well defensively against Sterling and Silva but wasn't quite so effective going forward as what we're used to seeing out of him. Lost Clichy in the build-up to City's goal, but that was the only glaring thing he did wrong.
3 Stars: Elizabeth Swann
Female pirates aren't very well represented in fiction, which is why it's so nice to have one of the best come through relatively recently. Sure, Jack Sparrow gets all the headlines, but Sparrow stumbled through most of his successes (usually drunk). So when it comes to actually getting good pirating done, Swann was ruthless and assured. You know if you're a female pirate you have to be twice as tough and fierce for half the respect. She was obviously modeled after Anne Bonny.
Danny Rose: A number of publications are giving Rose MOTM-level reviews for his match yesterday. I disagree. Rose defended bravely and resolutely – that was a great block that he took to the chest. And while he was able to get forward quite a bit, he wasn't able to convert those opportunities into very many offensive chances. He was 0/8 on his crossing (1/8 if you count the dubious penalty on Sterling.) I didn't think he was terrible, but he sure wasn't fantastic.
Mousa Dembele: A very strange match from Dembele. He had a fascinating match-up against Yaya Toure and managed to outmuscle him on several occasions, and he continued to do well cutting out City attacks, but his passing was pretty dreadful on Sunday. He had a couple of bad giveaways and some poor distribution that might have set up some shot attempts if he had managed a good pass in those situations. Also didn't track Kelechi Iheonacho which left him wide open for City's goal. (I had originally blamed Wimmer for this -- my bad)
Eric Dier: A similar story for Eric Dier. Defensively he was very good: he shielded the back four well and did all the "defensive midfieldery" things that you expect from him, but was also pretty poor in possession. You don't really expect Dier to be the hub of distribution, but it looked at times as though he couldn't string two passes together.
Dele Alli: Got into dangerous positions, but wasn't as incisive as usual and flagged badly towards the end of his shift. Part of that can be attributed to City's defending and part of it to exhaustion -- he looked VERY tired by the time he was subbed off.
Son Heung-Min: Looked sharp early, hand some fun flicks around the box, and fired home a (offside) goal from an extremely acute angle, but he still doesn't QUITE look like he's on the same page as his teammates. He's a fantastic footballer, and he'll get there. I'm not worried.
Tom Carroll: Was brought in for Sonny in order to stabilize midfield, and it worked. Didn't do anything particularly noteworthy except complete simple passes, which was something lacking in central midfield on Sunday. He was fine.
2.5 stars: Captain Morgan
The favorite pirate of frat boys everywhere. Sure, I guess it makes sense that you'd name a major rum brand after a pirate, but in an age of #brands this pirate exists only to get stupid college students #drunj on bad booze. I never realized pirates dressed so... flamboyantly, if you know what I mean. I think he's trying too hard.
Harry Kane: Yes, he scored a fine penalty. No, he wasn't especially good on Sunday. He wasn't nearly as involved in the attack as what we're used to seeing from him and looked flustered for most of the match. Easily one of his worst overall performances of the season.
2 stars: FreeCreditReport.com "Pirate"
This guy isn't a pirate! Where's the beard? Where's the peg-leg? Why is he playing guitar and shilling for a company selling "free" credit reports when everyone can receive them for free direct from the credit reporting agencies anyway? Why, all he's doing is STEALING PEOPLE'S MONEY! That's... oh. Well played.
Nacer Chadli: So you're a Tottenham striker who's coming in late in the match with Spurs up a goal in a hostile stadium. Don't you think you should, I dunno, use all that energy you've got to harry defenders and press the hell out of the ball? Chadli wasn't on the pitch much but he was lollygagging around, ignoring press triggers, and generally doing f**k-all. What was the point? Normally he'd get a Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating for this but he so infuriated me that he's getting the lowest rating. Atrocious.
1 star: The Arsenal Pirate Guy
No. Just no.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Arsenal Pirate Guy.