That was DOUBLE-PLUS UNGOOD. Tottenham Hotspur went into the Emirates hoping for a clean sweep at the end of a tough run of fixtures, or at minimum their first draw of the season. Instead, they got flattened by Arsenal, losing the first of (minimum) three North London Derbies this season by a score of 4-2.
There aren’t many positives to take out of this match, quite honestly, so let’s pick a topical holiday theme that allows us to vent our frustrations, both match-wise and theme wise. I give you: Tottenham Hotspur’s player ratings to the theme of bad Christmas traditions.
5 stars: Charlie Brown Christmas Special
This is not a bad Christmas tradition. In fact, this is a great Christmas tradition, and is one of the few pop culture things about Christmas that hasn’t become twisted into something monstrous or worn out its welcome. A Charlie Brown Christmas has been around for 53 years and it’s still the best Christmas TV show ever made. Fight me. (Actually, don’t — Linus wouldn’t want that.)
Eric Dier (1st half): Eric Dier is one of those players whom you love when he’s on your team and despise when he’s on any other team. Spurs weren’t great in the first half, but Dier certainly had his moments, none better than when he scored on a header and then ran to the Arsenal fans in the corner and “shushed” them. Five glorious, golden stars for epic NLD shithousery. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here.
3 stars: Brussels Sprouts
This category is a shout-out to the Brits reading this blog, because until today I had no idea that Brussels sprouts were a Christmas tradition in the UK. I had no idea, but I’m completely down with it, as they are extremely delicious so long as they are properly oven roasted and drizzled with lemon juice, or maybe a bit of sesame oil. Never boil your veggies, kids.
Son Heung-Min: There weren’t many good Tottenham players at the Emirates on Sunday, but Sonny probably got the closest. Won the penalty for Kane and also earned the free kick that led to Spurs’ first goal. If he had been a touch more clinical, the match might have ended up a closer affair.
Christian Eriksen: Had glimpses of magic, including the free kick to Eric Dier’s head, but seemed to be chasing the game more often than not and had difficulty dealing with Arsenal’s high-octane press. Still one of Spurs’ better performers.
2.5 stars: Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Finding and wearing ugly Christmas sweaters used to be a fine family tradition around the holidays, but it has invariably been ruined by marketers who now create and sell “ugly” Christmas sweaters that aren’t actually ugly at all. Now you see them everywhere and nobody wants them. Stupid brands. Can’t even leave GOOD bad traditions alone.
Hugo Lloris: Made some nice stops, but it’s hard to overlook giving up four goals. Nothing he could do about Auba’s worldy, but Hugo should’ve done much better on Arsenal’s third.
Dele Alli: God bless him, he tried, but Dele just couldn’t find any rhythm in this match and looked flummoxed by Arsenal’s midfield. Had a goal-saving goal line block and a yellow card for his troubles.
Harry Kane: Took his penalty very well (is there a better PK taker in the Premier League?) but was incredibly quiet for much of the game. Didn’t get service but usually finds his shot more easily.
2 stars: Front yard nativity scenes
I won’t say NEVER, but I can’t recall ever seeing one of these things, either inflatable, tangible, light-up, or live-action, that wasn’t incredibly tacky. And that didn’t make Jesus, Mary & Joseph look like Swedes. Just... no.
Juan Foyth: Looked like a 20 year old kid playing away at his club’s arch-rivals, which is exactly what he was. I find it hard to fault him too much — he didn’t, say, pick up two yellow cards, for example — but it’s baffling to me that Pochettino didn’t start Toby Alderweireld instead of throwing Foyth to the wolves. I get that he needs experience to improve, but come on.
1.5 stars: Holiday grade school programs
If you have kids, you’re vigorously nodding your head in agreement right now. Sure, it’s cute the first time your child flubs his line as Reindeer No. 2 during the annual religion-free Winter Holiday Pageant, but the idea of heading out into the cold to watch fourth graders murder “Deck the Halls” on wind instruments wears out its welcome pretty damn quick.
Jan Vertonghen: Probably one of the worst matches I’ve seen him play for Spurs the past few seasons. A stupid hand-ball led to Arsenal’s first goal, and he went and picked up two yellow cards, leaving Spurs short-handed at the end of the match. One to forget for Jan.
Serge Aurier: Got absolutely murdered down his flank the entire match and looked like he was one loose brain-staple away from doing something ridiculous like two-footed tackling Lacazette from behind. I actually missed Kieran Trippier.
Ben Davies: Oh sweet baby Jesus can we PLEASE start Danny Rose now? Or Kyle Walker-Peters? Or, IDK, Fernando Llorente at LB or something? Anything?
Moussa Sissoko: Leave it to Moussa Sissoko, just days after I finally say really nice things about him, to throw out an absolute stinker. Sure, for the second half he was Poch’d into a DM position that he’s not suited for, but this was a definite regression compared to his recent matches.
Eric Dier (2nd half): Eric Dier is a pretty good defensive midfielder, but he was a god-awful center back in the second half. Blame Poch for the awful tactics (I do) but Eric was shambolic in the back three and his stupid challenge on Torreira led to Arsenal’s fourth goal.
1 star: Mistletoe
Mistletoe is not charming, or cute, unless it’s over a doorway while you’re with someone that you already know you’re going to kiss that evening. And then, you already know you’re going to kiss them, so it’s pointless. In literally every other circumstance it becomes a source of intense awkwardness, hurt feelings, and unwanted advances. Nobody should ever feel pressured to kiss another person without their express consent. Mistletoe is trash.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as awful as mistletoe.
Zero stars — Mauricio Pochettino
This was perhaps the worst managed match I’ve seen out of Poch in over a year. Already dominated at the end of the first half, Poch’s decision to switch to a back three formation didn’t work, and he utterly failed to adjust to Arsenal’s tactics in the second half. Not making a sub until Spurs were down 4-2 was criminal. Unai Emery ate his lunch money on Sunday.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Danny Rose, Lucas Moura, Harry Winks