As far as losses go, that was a pretty good one. Tottenham Hotspur welcomed the best club team in Europe, Manchester City, to Wembley Stadium for a good match on a crappy pitch. And while Spurs gave up an early goal and couldn’t recover to get the equalizer, they otherwise played City pretty even. There were even good performances from unlikely places!
Tomorrow is Halloween, and with the changing of the leaves and the coming of the harvest also comes the annual glut of pumpkin beers. It’s not my favorite time of year, beer-wise. I will confess to hating most squash beers, but in recent months and years I have reluctantly concluded that there are a few gems buried in sea of trash. Let it not be said that I am not being fair!
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of pumpkin beers. (With apologies to our European friends — these are almost all universally American microbrews, and if you’re not States-side you may not have much of a context on which to judge these rankings. Just trust me, they’re 100% accurate and my opinions are perfect.)
5 stars: Southern Tier Warlock
When you think “pumpkin beer” you probably think about an IPA or a harvest ale with a lot of squash flavor added in. But Warlock is a stout, and a damned good one. It has the squash, but you also get the chocolate and toasted notes from the grain, which is a very nice, and different compliment. I don’t like pumpkin beers, but I really like this one.
Erik Lamela: Ran around creating havoc as he usually does, but was unusually profligate at times with the ball. Missed that late shot that would’ve tied the match, but we can possibly blame the pitch for that. No, he gets 5 stars today for winding up Benjamin Mendy to the point that Mendy literally threw a haymaker (that hit nothing) at him, for which Mendy should’ve been sent off. That’s what I’m talking about. Sharp ends, friendly eliminators.
4.5 stars: Shipyard Brewing Smashed Pumpkin
There’s a difference, in my mind, between a pumpkin beer and a pumpkin SPICED beer. This is the former, and it’s really pretty darned good. You get the spices, but it doesn’t overpower the squash flavor, and to my palate it also doesn’t come across as cloying. I actually kinda dig it.
Moussa Sissoko: Just like there are good pumpkin beers in a sea of trash, this performance was an excellent one in the sea of garbage matches Sissoko has had a Spurs shirt. But credit where due — Sissoko had an excellent match. Direct and tricky, Sissoko actually made good decisions... most of the time. Would get a 5 if not for that awful four-on-one play. You know the one. Otherwise, this was quite possibly his best ever match for Spurs. He was (more than) fine.
4 stars: Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
There aren’t very many bad Schlafly beers, and this one is no exception. It doesn’t try to be pretentious or gimmicky — it’s just pretty solid pumpkin ale with subtle hints of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, and also readily available if you like that kind of thing.
Davinson Sanchez: Davi’s had his struggles this season but seemed to really come into his own against City. Kept pace with Sterling for the most part and was sound both positionally and defensively, especially as he needed to cover for Trippier.
Dele Alli: What a return! Changed the match when he came on, even if the stats won’t necessarily show his impact, and he looked incredibly dangerous from the off. We have missed him a great deal, and it’s good to have him back (and with a new contract).
Harry Winks: Last week I criticized Winksy for being good with the ball but a bit profligate and ineffective in taking players on. Not so against City. Had a number of direct, darting runs through midfield and significantly raised the tempo of the match late in the game. A very good shift.
3.5 stars: Elysian Night Owl
A bit of a sugar bomb, there’s a lot of sweetness and spice but an undercurrent of roasted pumpkin underneath it that’s noticeable. Not a beer I’d have more than one of on any given night, but certainly not horrible going down.
Mousa Dembele: Didn’t hit the high notes the way he did against West Ham last weekend, but this was a much bigger challenge and he did a pretty good job against incredible athletes. He noticeably tired in the second half, which makes sense because he’s not really a two-match-a-week kind of player anymore.
Christian Eriksen: Had a noticeable impact on his substitution and seemed to pick up right where he left off i.e. his interplay with Dele. Wish we had more time with him on the pitch, but having someone like Christian as a substitute is a real luxury in a match like this one.
Eric Dier: Just another pretty good if unspectacular match from Dier. Spent a decent amount of time dropping deep to shield or join the back line, though he had a little trouble at times with the pace of City’s attackers.
Toby Alderweireld: One of the few times this season where Toby has been (slightly) overshadowed by Sanchez in a match. Not bad by any meaningful stretch, though I can tell he doesn’t feel quite as comfortable on the left side as he does on the right. Hurry back, Jan.
3 stars: Southern Tier Pumking
This beer used to be higher on my list. Lots of pumpkin flavor, but it’s just so sweet. Maybe that’s your thing — as I get older, it really no longer is mine. I know people who love this beer more than any other around this time, but to me it now tastes like someone dissolved a bag of candy corn in each bottle.
Hugo Lloris: We had a long debate in the writer’s Slack about whether Hugo was at fault for City’s goal, and we couldn’t really come to a consensus. (I say no.) Either way, he had a good mix of quality stops with some really poor distribution. Evens out to an average match.
Lucas Moura: Of anyone, you’d think if there was a player who could get behind City’s back line it would’ve been Lucas. He spent a lot of time instead getting body-checked by Fernandinho and looked gassed by the end of his shift.
Harry Kane: City did a good job of containing Kane in this match, and he was pretty neutralized for large stretches. Missed a sitter and was incorrectly flagged offsides when one-on-one with Ederson. Otherwise did his usual Harry Kane things dropping deep and playing people in.
2 stars: Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat
This tastes like artificial pumpkin-flavored Budweiser. Which is probably what it is. Avoid.
Kieran Trippier: Remember when this guy was being called the “Bury Beckham?” His stupid back-header led to City’s goal, and he spent much of the match getting torched by any City player with an ounce of pace. Ugh.
Ben Davies: I know we have to play him because Danny Rose is still hurt, but it was obvious to everyone exactly what was going to happen to Gentle Ben going into this match, and to nobody’s surprise he wasn’t great. Did have a couple good blocks, though.
1 star: Horny Goat HornyCopia Pumpkin Ale
Full disclosure: I have never actually had this. Based on the name alone, I do not feel the need to.
The Wembley Pitch: I know, nobody had a choice in the matter, but the Wembley pitch was every bit as bad as you might have expected after two teams of hulking men beat the crap out of each other with cleats for three hours. And lord, was it bad. Nobody went down with an injury, thankfully, but you have to wonder if that pitch is closer to croquet ground than cow pasture if Lamela puts that shot into the back of the net.