Beef is delicious, and this post is all about meat, and how certain cuts of dead cow can be elevated to extraordinary levels. What, you're a vegetarian? Well, as much as I love a good veggie platter (especially at Thanksgiving), if God didn't want me to eat beef he wouldn't have made cows so delicious. So if you don't dig a nice steak, you might want to skip this article.
Tottenham Hotspur went to Villa Park and put Aston Villa to the sword on Sunday, winning 2-0 and keeping pace in the race for the Premier League title. Afterwards, the Spurs players went out for a celebratory steak, probably.
It's important to note here that all these cuts of beef are pretty good, but when you're playing Aston Villa, you end up grading on a pretty hefty curve. Even the worst cut of beef is still beef, and beef is good. Tottenham are also good.
So let's rate the Tottenham Hotspur players to the theme of beef cuts.
5 stars: Ribeye
The king of steaks. Oh sure, people love their porterhouse and their T-bone (see the 4 star rating), but for my money a good, well-marbled ribeye is the pinnacle of beefy deliciousness. The fattiest of the major steaks, fat means more moisture, and more flavor. Get a bone-in and you have a perfect handle for eating like the caveperson that you are, gentle reader. Pan-sear in butter, finish to medium rare in the oven, live like royalty.
Harry Kane: One season wonder? Naa. Kane was at his best again against Villa and probably should've had a hat trick if not for some unlucky finishing and a freakishly good performance from Brad Guzan. Kane is now joint-top scorer in the Premier League. Suck it, Vardy.
Erik Lamela: Another outstanding match from Lamela, he's rightfully keeping Son Heung-Min out of the starting 11 in the league. If he finishes that shot from inside the box (Guzan got a fingertip on it, fair play), he's man of the match.
Kyle Walker: Wow. Nobody could stop Walker from bombing up the right flank like a guided missile, and he had a number of blasts on target that were well saved by Guzan. This is the kind of performance that you can get from Walker if the opposing team, y'know, chooses not to guard him.
4.5 stars: Short rib
If there's ever a cut of meat that was made for a long braise, it's the short rib. The bone and connective tissue in this cut add to the flavor and tenderness immensely, and when done right they fall off the bone and result in a deliciousness that is almost incomparable. You can use the boneless ones too – they're also good.
Danny Rose: Kyle Walker was just a tad better (if you're comparing the two fullbacks' performances), but Danny Rose was marvelous against Villa, who seemed to take the "LOL nothing matters" approach to defending the flanks. His crossing was better, too.
Toby Alderweireld: His usual imperious self in defense, but what really set him off this time was his command in the air. Kept Gestede in his pocket.
Dele Alli: Looked like he was still off his feed early, but settled nicely in the game and provided two assists to Kane for each of his goals. Is this the match where he finally shakes off all of the post-injury rust?
4 stars: Strip
Strip steaks are great. A little less marbled than the ribeye, and a little less tender, they're nonetheless fantastic hunks of meat. Keep the bone and part of the tenderloin and you have a T-bone or a porterhouse. Good if you like a steak with just a hint of bite to it instead of melt-in-your-mouth tender. It's your vintage steakhouse cut, and there's absolutely nothing to complain about here.
Hugo Lloris: A stabilizing presence between the sticks. He wasn't exactly involved for much of the match, but he stepped up when he needed to and kept out a number of decent Villa chances late in the match.
Mousa Dembele: This is the kind of match in which an in-form Dembele can absolutely dominate. And he did, rarely losing possession and making good passes out of midfield to the attackers.
Kevin Wimmer: Another solid defensive outing from Wimmer, who is making a case for him for more involvement in the defense, even when Jan Vertonghen returns. Poche has a true rotation option now with Wimmer, not just a good backup.
Christian Eriksen: Flat out ran stuff in the midfield. Faded in the second half, but he looked gassed. I suspect he needs a rest after playing almost every minute of the past few matches.
3.5 stars: Hanger steak/skirt steak
This is a criminally underrated piece of meat. Flank steak has had its day, but hanger and skirt are better and tastier versions of the same idea. Hanger in particular is bursting with flavor and is one of my personal favorites. A quick marinade or a dry rub and then a fast cook on a hot grill will result in some of the best fajitas you've ever had.
Nobody on Tottenham's team exactly fits this category, but I would be remiss in not listing it because this is one hell of a cut of beef.
3 stars: Chuck
There's nothing wrong with chuck. It's a very well-rounded cut of meat with a good fat ratio, and because it's on the cheap side it means it's perfectly acceptable in a variety of cooking applications. Chuck makes a great weeknight pot roast, and ground it makes a perfectly acceptable burger. There are better cuts out there and more delicious ones, but this hits the sweet spot between cost and benefit.
Eric Dier: Dier was fine. Perfectly, absolutely fine. He wasn't stellar, but he didn't have to be. He wasn't awful either. He was there, he did his thing against a terrible Aston Villa team, and Spurs won the day. On Sunday, Eric Dier was the chuck roast of Tottenham Hotspur, and that's 100% fine with me.
2.5 stars: Filet mignon
When cooked well, filet mignon is delicious. That's about the only thing it has going for it. Unfortunately, 99% of cooks have no idea how to actually cook a filet mignon, and it's so hellaciously overpriced that it is in no way worth the extra expense to buy it and cook it poorly. This is a primarily economic-based opinion, but you came here for the smoking hot meat takes and that's what I'm providing. Screw filet mignon. You can do better, for far cheaper.
Tom Carroll: When Tom Carroll came on, Spurs started to let Villa back into the game a little and led to a couple of big chances late in the match. The later substitutions exacerbated the problem, but Tom wasn't great against a trash Villa midfield. I'm starting to worry about his long-term viability.
1 star: Sirloin
Taken from the rump of the cow, sirloin is what your butcher would call "tough and tasteless," (or what marketers would call "lean and healthy"). I mean, it's beef, so we're grading this on a curve, but there isn't enough fat in a cut of sirloin to make anything but a dry burger, and even in a braise it'll end up kind of tough and chewy. You either have to marinade the crap out of it or pound it within an inch of its life to make it good. Look, I'll still eat it if available, and steak is still steak, but unless you're on a shoestring budget there's no real reason to buy this. It's the Ryan Shawcross of beef.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as a big hunk of sirloin. Or Ryan Shawcross.