There are may ways to experience a football match. For years I was one of those people who dismissed the football fans who say that watching the games live is so superior to watching on television.
But then I went to White Hart Lane. While I still think it’s unwise to dismiss the opinions of fans who only watch matches on television, there’s definitely something to the idea of being at the stadium -- you get a better sense of the space on the field, the movement of the players. I don’t know if it’s better, but it’s definitely different. And also a heck of a lot of fun.
But still, precious few of us are able to watch a football match live, for various reasons. That said, there are some ways of following matches that are objectively better than other ways. So for today’s theme, let’s rank the Tottenham Hotspur players to the theme of Ways to Follow Football Matches.
Most of the time when I watch football I have my analytical hat on, which means I rarely can just cut loose and enjoy a match. So the best way to watch football is when I’m able to have a few drinks, head to the stadium, and just forget about everything else besides having a good time. I think the last time this happened was last Spring, against Bournemouth, at White Hart Lane. And it was glorious. I highly recommend it.
Harry Kane: World class? Not quite world class? It hardly matters, he’s f—king amazing and he’s staying at Tottenham forever.
Christian Eriksen: That legitimately was one of the best matches I’ve seen Christian Eriksen play in a Spurs shirt, and he did it while recovering from the flu.
Eric Dier: Dier worked really well in midfield with Harry Winks, providing excellent cover for Winksy as he moved forward with the ball but he was also strong defensively, dropping deep to make some important stops and also passing very well from deep positions. He was fantastic!
OK, so you can’t fly to London for a match or you don’t have tickets, or whatever. Finding your local pub to go watch a football match with 100 or so of your closest mates-slash-strangers is the next best thing. Sure, it’s hot and stinky in there, it’s loud as hell, and you’ll invariably get beer spilled on you, but at least you have the camaraderie of other supporters to buoy you along. That’s not nothing. Barring actually being there, it’s actually almost everything.
Dele Alli: Dele didn’t score on Saturday, but he should’ve, and was a critical component of a Tottenham attack that absolutely shredded a Huddersfield team that going into this match had only conceded three goals. Gets a half-star deduction for that ridiculous dive in the box.
Ben Davies: Six clearances, two shots, one assist, and a really nicely taken goal. This was a really outstanding match for Ben. He had a small tendency to fade a bit at times, especially in the second half when already up big, but Spurs also weren’t as reliant on their fullbacks as they often are. Just an exceptional game.
Kieran Trippier: Like Davies, just a really really good match for Trippier, who wasn’t under a whole lot of pressure and was able to do the things that he does very well. His header to Kane for the first goal was excellent and had a good number of crosses into the box as well.
I have kids. I have kids that sometimes need things while the game is on, the little jerks. Darned kids with their Maslow hierarchy of needs. If you’re like me and can’t usually go out to watch a match, the next best thing is kicking the kids to go outside and play for a couple of hours so you can concentrate on the game. Come back in about 2 hours, kids, Daddy needs his “me time.” Yes, the door will be locked.
Hugo Lloris: Huddersfield weren’t exactly toothless despite giving up four goals, and Hugo was there to make a number of quality stops especially early in the match.
Jan Vertonghen: I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Vertonghen has been the best Tottenham central defender so far this season. I love how he’s added the ability to push into midfield as well. One of these times he’s going to score from distance and we’re all going to go crazy.
Toby Alderweireld: On the other side of Davinson Sanchez from Jan was Toby, who continues to have the ability to ping long balls from deep positions. Not all of them come off, but they stretched Huddersfield’s defense. His ability to shift wide helped Trippier as well. A very good match.
Harry Winks: Not much to say here -- just a very, very solid central midfield match from “Little Iniesta.” His passing from midfield was just what was needed in this match against a Huddersfield press.
Moussa Sissoko: Moussa Sissoko scored a goal. That’s it. Four stars.
Most people who aren’t olds like me would never dream of listening to a sportsball game on the radio, but I almost prefer it sometimes. I grew up listening to Indiana college basketball games on the radio in the 1980s, and it brings back memories of huddling around the tinny speaker with my dad and brother, fiddling with the dial when it fuzzed out. Football matches on the radio are fun because the announcers must be skilled enough to describe the non-stop action, and the best of them paint pictures with their words that make it like you’re really there. It makes the matches super exciting to listen to, sometimes more exciting than the match really is.
Davinson Sanchez: Sanchez had an above average match but he was still probably... “worst” isn’t the right word. “Least best?” Sanchez was fine, honest! But he had a couple of almost-scary passes out of the back, had a shoulder barge that probably should’ve been called as a penalty, and a very good (but still kinda dangerous) diving tackle in the box. He’s been so solid between Jan and Toby that sometimes it’s easy to forget that he’s still young, pretty raw, and will occasionally make mistakes.
Remember how absolutely nobody who wasn’t in Wembley Stadium was able to watch the match against Barnsley? Or, for others like me who work during mid-week matches, sometimes the only recourse is to set up a Twitter alert for @spursofficial and pray for frequent notifications. It’s better than nothing. But only just.
No Tottenham players were this bad! Yay!
An oddly specific category, I know. But this is exactly what happened to Carty Free founder Kevin McCauley, who watched Bayern Munich lose — at the Allianz — to a Chelsea side that finished fifth place in the Premier League, at the home of We Ain’t Got No History founder Graham MacAree. In case you’ve successfully blocked this memory (congratulations), by virtue of winning the Champions League, Chelsea claimed England’s fourth spot in the 2012-13 competition, bumping out Spurs, who finished fourth in the table that season. It’s been almost six years and Graham still giggles about this in SB Nation Slack.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as having to watch the 2012 Champions League final at the home of a Chelsea blog manager.
Son Heung-Min, Kyle Walker-Peters