Get ready to argue! Radiohead's new album "A Moon Shaped Pool" dropped Sunday, and I'm typing this article while listening to it. And it got all of us on the masthead thinking: wouldn't that make a great player rating theme? ...Wait, haven't we done that before? Nope, I guess not, that's great! <argues for an hour>
We're not including Moon Shaped Pool in these rankings because it's waaaaay too new (though on first listen I think it's pretty fantastic). What I've discovered in the process of writing this article is that people like Radiohead a lot, but nobody seems to agree on how they should be ranked. Except for King of Limbs.
So let's rank Tottenham Hotspur's players in their loss to Southampton to the theme of Radiohead albums. Fight me.
5 stars: Kid A/Amnesiac
I'm putting these two albums together because they're (a) both outstanding and (b) essentially companion albums, with Amnesiac consisting of mostly B-cuts from Kid A. The fact that their unused tracks from Kid A can stand up to that same album is evidence that they really should've just released one double-album. Between "Everything In Its Right Place," "Morning Bell," "Pakt Like Sardines" and "Pyramid Song," these two albums have four of my top five favorite Radiohead songs.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as good as Kid A or Amnesiac. Which is probably one factor in why they lost.
4 stars: OK Computer/In Rainbows/The Bends
Confession time: I'm not a big fan of OK Computer and had it rated lower, but I got shouted down by my colleagues and this is ostensibly a joint article. It's fine, and I prefer it in conjunction with In Rainbows as "01 and 10." In Rainbows, I think, successfully blends the competing electronic/acoustic themes at play in Radiohead's music, and the result is a wonderfully approachable listen that pairs well with OK Computer. The Bends, meanwhile, is a guitar-driven album that perfectly encapsulates Radiohead's early style, but it's just not quite enough to take it to the top tier.
Christian Eriksen: Tried his best and set up a big chance. His passing was quite good across the board though his attempts into the box lacked a certain cutting edge quality. He was also not getting the support behind him that he's used to. Probably Spurs' best all-around player, though not quite good enough for a five-star rating.
Son Heung-Min: Sonny scored our only goal, and it was a beauty, as he rounded the keeper and juked two other Soton defenders for a tap-in. Not easy, but he made it look like such. However, he drifted out of the game after that and was again subbed midway through the second half. Not sure what's going on there.
Danny Rose: Was embroiled in a duel with Sadio Mane and comported himself well, I thought. Good going forward, but his end product was a little lacking, and like everyone else turned into a pumpkin in the second half. I don't think overall there's too much to complain about with Danny's game on Sunday.
3 stars: Hail to the Thief
Ben Daniels lobbied hard for this as the 5-star offering. This is a return to a guitar-based offering after Kid A and Amnesiac, and while it's a fine album it's just feels like a return to conformity with few stand-out songs. The thing that's unfair about this is that even a "3-star" Radiohead album is still really freakin' good.
Eric Dier: Dier really seemed to miss his midfield buddies Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele. Mason's recklessness meant he was under a lot more pressure than he's used to. Had one memorable tackle in midfield that was inch-perfect, unlike during the Chelsea match.
Janby Alderweirtonghen: Shane Long gave both of these guys trouble today, which is both surprising and unusual. It seemed like both central defenders needed to put in a lot more effort to cut out Soton's counterattacks than they normally do and were a half-step behind on several occasions.
Harry Kane: Had a couple of good looks at goal, and showed great awareness to let Lamela's through-ball bypass him to Son for Spurs' only goal. But there were a couple of times where Kane could (and should) have passed up a shot to more open teammates. Not as involved as we're used to seeing from him.
Erik Lamela: His assist to Son was a beautifully weighted pass, even if I'm not 100% certain he was looking for Sonny with that ball. Was otherwise mostly marginalized in the midfield.
Kyle Walker: Not the best of matches for Kyle. Took a blow to the head that may (or may not) have contributed to Southampton's first goal, which isn't his fault, but he also seemed to have a lot of trouble with Tadic on the right flank.
2 stars: Pablo Honey
Radiohead's first album. The most "traditional" of their offerings, it's fine but not great, relying more on mid-90s wall-of-sound guitars. You can hear the seeds of the direction that they would go in later albums on here, though. It's a bit like listening to early U2: you can see where they're going in retrospect, but you don't enjoy that early sound as much as their more polished later offerings. But, Pablo Honey has "Creep," which instantly raises it a few notches.
Clinton N'Jie: I was so excited to see Clinton take the field on Sunday after such a long absence, and I was really looking forward to seeing what he can do. Turns out, he didn't do hardly anything. He barely touched the ball and was ineffective in his return to Spurs' lineup.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo was bad on Sunday. That feels strange typing it, so let me do it again: Hugo Lloris was bad on Sunday. Nope, still feels weird. But he had a shocker in goal against Southampton. He let a reaction save slip through his hands, and was caught completely flat footed on Davis' second, which he saves with ease most days. Hugo's a great keeper, but he deserves this rating today.
Ryan Mason: Oh dear. Where to begin? We don't give 1 star ratings (that's the bit, folks) but Mason just about deserves it. What a dreadful performance. Unable to cope with midfield pressure, failed to track runners, frequently out of position, his performance led to numerous Southampton counterattacks that, thankfully, didn't amount to much because they're really not that great. Ryan Mason was awful and we tried to warn you. If he starts against a Newcastle side fighting for their EPL lives, I'm seriously worried about our chances.
1 star: King of Limbs
This album: I don't even. It has its devotees, but I don't understand them. It's like they tried to "out-Kid A" Kid A, but they forgot to include any actual musical hooks or, y'know, decent material. It ends up coming across as an experimental algorithmically-composed concept album. Great if you're stoned, I guess, but then if you're stoned, you're putting on OK Computer anyway. No thanks.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as the King of Limbs, but boy howdy, it got close there for a while.