Tottenham Hotspur went to Liverpool this Saturday and came away with a scrappy 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park. That’s fine. I don’t get the sense that anyone’s particularly MAD ONLINE about this result, though it obviously didn’t go the way we all wanted it to.
But we still have to rank the players, and rank them we shall to a theme that is topical and interesting, and (remarkably) one that we haven’t done before. The Olympics are in its second week, which gives us a great opportunity to look at the various events taking place in Rio right now, and give you all our pronouncements from the fiery peak of Mount Take.
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to theme of summer Olympic sporting events.
5 stars: Gymnastics
I truly believe that Olympic gymnasts are, pound for pound, the best Olympic athletes, and watching these incredible humans launch themselves into the air is incredible. I am in awe of the things these people can do with their bodies. Nobody can watch Simone Biles and not recognize greatness. That said, I possess a pang of liberal guilt when I see how young you have to start to be an Olympic gymnast, and the lifelong toll it takes on their bodies in the form of stunted growth and physical development, especially in women. I very nearly docked it one star for this.
It’s not that there weren’t good performances. It’s that none of them elevated themselves to outstanding status. Early days.
4 stars: Swimming
I’m a swim dad, so I’m biased here, but I have rarely enjoyed watching an Olympic sport as much as I have watching the swimming in Rio this summer. It’s not just that Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky are crushing everyone, though that certainly is fun this summer. There’s high drama, fewer heats than in track, and this summer, more trash talking than on an episode of RAW. I watch these athletes swim and just the dream that I might see my kids swimming for gold someday makes it worth spending whole weekends sweating in some crappy high school pool with no wifi.
But really, the best thing about swimming this summer was Ryan Lochte admitting on national TV that he’s single and on Tinder.
Vincent Janssen - When Janssen came in for Dier, I was puzzled, but it was a good substitution by Pochettino and Janssen showed glimpses of why he scored so many Eredivisie goals last season. Held up the ball well, was active around goal, and should’ve scored.
Kyle Walker - Quite possibly one of Spurs’ best players getting forward. Put in an inch-perfect cross to Lamela for Spurs’ goal and was dangerous up the pitch the entire match. A good shift.
Michel Vorm - We all panicked when Hugo went out, but Vorm was quite solid in goal when he came in, making one key save, distributing the ball well, and marshaling the defense capably. He’s not Hugo (who is?) but he had a nice match, and he deserves credit.
3.5 stars: Fencing
I have never fenced or even picked up a foil in my life, but watching Olympic fencing is hella fun. Heck, I don’t even understand most of the rules, but it’s PEOPLE WITH MASKS ON HITTING EACH OTHER WITH SWORDS. Must-see TV.
Toby Alderweireld - Still Spurs’ best defender, though Deulofeu and Barkley gave him and the back line some trouble, especially in the first half.
Erik Lamela - Got the goal (by a header, no less!) and should’ve had a second but for a miracle save by Stekelenburg. He saved Spurs’ asses. But I couldn’t help noticing that his passing was incredibly wasteful in possession on Saturday. So here’s your #hottaek.
3 stars - Track and Field
Track and Field is, perhaps more than any other Olympic sport, the pure undiluted essence of human athletic ability, and this is encapsulated in the sprinting events, especially the 100m. The human body can only run so fast, and as humans continue to push towards that threshold the margins of victory become smaller and smaller. Or not, if you’re Usain Bolt. That makes for compelling television, but imho it doesn’t carry the drama that some of the other sports do. But hey, YMMV. I also enjoy watching weird-ass sports like pole vault and shot-put because, really, they’re weird.
Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama separately - As Kevin alluded to yesterday, neither Dier nor Wanyama were individually poor. Both were safe with the ball, and did the things that a defensive midfielder should do. There were just two of them instead of one, and for this match, that’s one too many. Wanyama had some dumb tackles, including the one outside the box that lead to Barkley’s free-kick goal.
Hugo Lloris - Let in a really dumb goal (not entirely his fault, tbh), then left via injury before he had a chance to make up for it. But he also had a couple of wonderful saves in his brief game time. Please be healthy, Hugo.
Danny Rose - Did his best to get forward throughout the match, and was, along with Walker, one of the only Spurs players who could effectively get the ball forward. But that meant he frequently left massive space open behind him which Everton capitalized on in the first half. And oh, that hospital ball back pass to Vorm! He’s lucky Everton didn’t capitalize or he drops down to 1.5 stars.
Christian Eriksen - Eriksen didn’t have the sort of match that we expect from him where he dictates most of Tottenham’s offense, mostly because Everton did a very good job of containing him. He wasn’t awful, by any means: one shot on target, one very good free kick that went just over, 48-55 passing. He just wasn’t particularly influential.
2.5 stars: Golf
There is nothing more ridiculous than the idea of Olympic golf. Now, I’m not going to say that golfers aren’t athletes, but come on. Playing 18 holes of golf isn’t anywhere close to something like judo, or boxing, or even weightlifting. This summer’s tournament is also unspeakably dumb because most of the best players stayed away from these games because of Zika. I’d rather do anything else than watch Olympic golf, like get Zika.
Jan Vertonghen - Jan looked rusty in this match, which is to be expected considering it was his first meaningful match of any kind since being injured in the Euros. He got turned around completely by Gerard Deulofeu on a number of occasions.
Dele Alli - Not a great match from Dele who admitted last week that he feels “rusty.” No, he wasn’t getting service, and yes he was probably Spurs’ best attacking threat in the first half, but this was a pretty poor outing for him. Wasteful passing, marked out of the offense. He’ll get better.
2 stars: Football
Let’s be honest with each other. We love football. But Olympic football is bad and dumb. It’s mostly U23 squads with a few overage players that probably don’t really want to be there to begin with (Sonny excepted). The tournament itself conflicts with the start of most club football seasons, which means domestic leagues hate it. And finally, the overall quality of the football is pretty poor. It’s by some measure the worst of the three major summer football tournaments, and I’m including the Copa America which was a naked cash grab of a fake tournament meant only to pad the pockets of corrupt federation officials.
Harry Kane - Harry was almost completely anonymous in this match, which probably isn’t even his fault. Spurs were not set up to counter a back three and Kane was completely marked out of the match, rarely seeing any daylight.
Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama together - Whooof. I admit, I wanted to see this pairing on Saturday. It didn’t work. It’s a perfect example of subtraction through addition: two defensive midfielders, neither of which were asked to really help link up play, against a back five. Maybe it’d work against a different team, but it didn’t work on Saturday.
1 Star: Equestrian sports
You’re riding a horse. This requires virtually no actual athletic ability beyond being able to sit in a saddle. Give the medals to the horses. (I was told about a proposal that the equestrian horses should all have to compete in one non-equestrian Olympic event, which makes this a lot more interesting. A horse on a trampoline! Equestrian archery! Usain Bolt vs. Ace the Gelding in the 100m! Replace the pommel horse with AN ACTUAL HORSE! The possibilities are endless.)
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as watching equestrian sports at the Olympics.