Tottenham got a win yesterday! But it was a somewhat pyrrhic one. Spurs defeated Sunderland 1-0 at White Hart Lane on Sunday in a match that they thoroughly dominated. 31 shots, 8 of them on target. Long spells of possession. And yet they still nearly gifted the Black Cats a dumb goal and won by the narrowest of margins.
Oh, and they lost Harry Kane.
All said, it was a pretty decent performance by Spurs, as frustrating as the match was. So let’s rate the player performances to something quintessentially British, but still approachable by American readers: Harry Potter characters.
I can’t believe we haven’t used this theme yet! It’s like looking for pennies in a trash heap and finding a diamond! Without further ado, here are Tottenham Hotspur’s player ratings to the theme of Harry Potter characters.
5 stars: Hermione Granger
Hermione Granger is the best character in the Potterverse, bar none. She’s the smartest witch in the school, and the only one of the main protagonist trio to actually know what the f**k she’s doing. In fact, her role is as much to keep Ron and Harry from getting themselves killed as it is to fight against Voldemort. Every time Harry and Ron have a theory, Hermione expresses doubt, and just about every time, she’s proven right. But more than that, she’s also willing to break rules (fight the Man!) for the benefit of the greater good. Without her, Voldemort takes over the world with very little difficulty because Harry would’ve gotten himself eaten by Fluffy in book one.
Son Heung-Min (MOTM): Even considering his last league match where he scored two goals, this might have been Sonny’s best game in a Tottenham shirt. He was everywhere, stretching the defense, taking players on. His delivery was phenomenal, especially from corners, and he created five chances. Outstanding.
Mousa Dembele: Welcome back, Moose. Three chances created, 73/77 completed passes, one nice shot saved, and innumerable Sunderland players trucked. Man, he’s good. I’ve missed him so much.
Harry Kane: Harry Kane was really, really good on Sunday. He was dragging players out of position, his passing around the box was amazing, he scored a goal, and he took one for the team by doing his ankle. Unquestionably a five star performance. Eat it, haters.
4.5 stars: Neville Longbottom
Neville Longbottom is the Harry Potter we all wanted and should’ve gotten. He’s way more interesting than Harry, who was a member of the magical 1%. He could’ve been Voldemort’s target, and his character is probably the one Hogwarts student that develops the most from the beginning of the series to the end. He becomes not only an incredible magician, but an incredible leader. He also actually shows an aptitude for magic and goes on to be Hogwarts Professor of Herbology. I’d like to see a re-writing of the series from Neville’s point of view, like what Orson Scott Card did with Bean in “Ender’s Shadow.” I think it’d be a lot more interesting.
Kyle Walker: Another very solid game from Walker on both ends of the pitch. Excellent passing, solid positioning, good going forward (apart from a couple bad crosses). Cements this rating with that incredible off-the-line save of Steven Pienaar’s shot late in the first half.
Erik Lamela: Came in for a late cameo and immediately went to work. His creativity and technical ability were on full display and he had a gorgeous shot tipped away. He’s playing with confidence and is loving his football right now.
4 stars: Severus Snape
Let’s be honest: we all could see the redeeming arc of Severus Snape coming from a long, LONG way off. But that doesn’t make it any less impactful, or interesting. Snape’s transition over the course of the series from chief antagonist of Harry to one of the series’ most important undercover heroes was fun to read. Perhaps nobody in the series gave up more for the greater good than Severus Snape, and for so little in return. He didn’t even get the girl! He was a martyr and a hero. Dumbledore treated him like sh*t.
Toby Alderweireld: Nothing to see here, just another wonderfully solid defensive performance from one of the best central defenders in England.
Victor Wanyama: Victor finally got a start in what should be his preferred position, as the more defensive in a midfield pivot, and he was much, much better. Did the dirty work in midfield while Dembele hit the truck stick. His forward passing was suspect, but his overall passing was solid. I like him as much in this role as I was wary when he was playing as a shuttler.
3 stars: Voldemort
I like the IDEA of Voldemort, but after reading the series several times through I kind of hate the execution. Voldemort is the embodiment of evil in the Potterverse, but over the course of the series you don’t really get a sense of his actual motivation. He had a troubled childhood, gravitated to the mysteries of dark magic because it was forbidden, split his soul into seven pieces, and then... what? Enslave the Muggles? Become Chief Wizard of the World? I’m not sure Rowling ever really got a handle on what to do with him, and he comes across as a cookie-cutter Irredeemable Bad Guy™ with severe emotional disabilities and a tragic backstory.
Moussa Sissoko: I saw a lot of abuse directed towards Sissoko, but I thought he was fine. Was he £30m fine? No, but that shouldn’t be the criteria. He seemed to be the victim of a lot of hard challenges from Sunderland players, specifically Kirchhoff. Would like to see him drift in a little more, but it’s still early days.
Eric Dier: As a CB, he’s fine, and probably the most ready to deputize if one of the Belgian Bros goes down or is moved, especially with Wanyama ready to step into midfield. He was mostly good except for when he got his pocket picked and got lost on defense setting up Pienaar’s shot. That was bad, Eric.
Dele Alli: Looked invigoratingly solid early and set up four chances over the course of the match but his final ball was wasteful and he was having trouble breaking down Sunderland’s bunkered defense. I advocated subbing him off for Janssen at halftime.
Jan Vertonghen: Look, he’s not a left back, okay? Didn’t get forward with the same regularity and seemed more apt to sit back and defend, which is fine. He was fine. I just don’t like him in that position if at all possible.
Hugo Lloris: Barely involved for much of the match. Had a good stop on Defoe’s shot attempt, but his distribution was pretty dreadful, including a hospital ball that set up a Sunderland half-chance in the first half.
2 stars: Harry Potter
This is not a new theory, but I’m saying it anyway: Harry Potter is the worst hero of a major fantasy series ever. He’s terrible at magic (which isn’t really his fault but he doesn’t really show any aptitude for anything magical over the course of the series except disarming spells and broomsticks), he constantly puts himself and his friends in danger by virtue of his own ignorance and ineptitude, succeeds only by a combination of blind luck and the talents of his friends and who are there to bail him out, and is a magnet for evil and dark magical forces. He’s impulsive, bad at being a wizard, dropped out of school and STILL got a job at the Ministry of Magic. He’s also rich. Frankly, he’s the magical equivalent of that idiot football-playing jock we all knew in high school. If I were a student a Hogwarts, I’d hate his guts.
No Tottenham players were as bad as Harry Potter. Vincent Janssen might have been, but he wasn’t on the pitch long enough, so he gets a pass. Much like Harry.
1 star: Parents who send their children to study at Hogwarts
Hogwarts is bad. It’s the worst school in the universe. Students regularly get disfigured, maimed, and even killed in the course of their magical studies. Over the course of the series, students have fallen hundreds of feet off of broomsticks, have had their bones removed (by teachers!), have fallen into vanishing cabinets and been partially translocated, and threatened by centaurs. And that’s not even mentioning the students killed by Voldemort upon his rise (RIP Cedric) and during the Battle of Hogwarts. If my daughter shows any inkling of magical ability, I’d rather send her to Durmstrang.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as parents who send their children to study at Hogwarts.