A good, convincing win is just what you need after a tough North London Derby loss. Tottenham Hotspur ran past Southampton 3-1 at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, thanks to goals from Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, and Son Heung-Min. Despite the scoreline, it wasn’t the most convincing of wins, but that’s okay this time of year — when the matches come thick and fast as they do in December, it matters less HOW you win than the mere fact that you do.
There are lots of Christmas carols and songs during the holidays. Many are great. Many (more) are bad. That’s a pretty good topic, but it’s HUGE and nobody would agree with my takes anyway.
So instead today, I’m going hipster — here are the Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for Spurs’ 3-1 win over Southampton, to the theme of lesser-known Christmas songs — the ones that don’t get on the radio all that often anymore, or that you never really hear at all. Some of you may say “Oh yeah, I remember these,” while others may be new to you. It’s not complete — no list like this could possibly hope to be so. I hope you enjoy them, because I had fun curating this list, and feel free to drop your favorite seldom-heard Christmas songs in the comments.
5 stars: John McCutcheon, “Christmas in the Trenches”
Wanna cry a little today? John McCutcheon is an incredible musician and folksinger, and this is one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time. It’s a song that tells the true story of the “Christmas Truce” of 1914, where English and German soldiers on the other side of the trenches in World War I stopped fighting on Christmas Day, and celebrated the holiday together before going back to war. It’s a poignant song that John does so well, and is the perfect representation of what the season is supposed to be all about.
Hugo Lloris: It’s really a tie between Hugo the woodwork as to who had the biggest defensive impact on this match. But since I can’t really rate a piece of iron, it goes to Hugo. He had two incredible stops — one where he tipped a blast onto the post (woodwork!) and out, and another double-stop in the second half that might have changed the match. Outstanding.
Harry Kane: One goal, one assist, two similar(ish) plays. A great run through the middle to get on the end of a cross from Christian Eriksen, and a lovely assist himself to Son Heung-Min. After a mostly invisible match against Arsenal, Kane was back leading the line against an overmatch Saints squad.
4.5 stars: The Kinks, “Father Christmas”
I love this song. It’s catchy, festive, and singable, with some great hooks. But what’s really great are the lyrics, which are a critique of both rising consumerism and with a sad nod to the British lower class who often have to do without during the holiday period. I’d say it was about Thatcherism if it wasn’t recorded in 1977. “Give my daddy a job ‘coz he needs one / He’s got plenty of mouths to feed / But if you’ve got one I’ll take a machine gun / So I can scare all the kids on the street”
Son Heung-Min: Just a fantastic match from Sonny, who had acres of space in front of him on the flanks against Soton’s defense, and capitalized. Was in the right place at the right time to bundle home his goal, but should’ve had at least one more with a touch better finishing. Disappeared slightly in the second half when Spurs took their foot off the gas.
4 stars: Sufjan Stevens, “Once in Royal David’s City”
Sufjan Stevens is the musical darling of the Millennial hipsters, but he also puts out a collection of Christmas songs almost every year. And they’re usually great — collections of eclectic covers of traditional holiday tunes. This one is my favorite — a quirky cover of a 19th century carol that features what sounds like a gosh-darned crumhorn ensemble in the chorus.
Christian Eriksen: Had plenty of time to make plays when he needed to and took advantage. Had one assist, nearly had another (Alderweireld’s header was saved), and looked comfortable on the ball the entire match.
Toby Alderweireld: Solid at the back, dealt well with most of Southampton’s attempts at countering. Why was he on the bench, again?
Lucas Moura: One of his better performances in the past couple of months. Fairly tidy with the ball, and reacted well to fire home his initial blocked shot. Visibly tired in the second half, subbed off for Sissoko.
3.5 stars: Robert Earl Keen, “Merry Christmas from the Family”
When a song starts off “Mom got drunk and dad got drunk / At our Christmas party” you know you’re getting something interesting. Here, Robert Earl Keen writes about a dysfunctional family celebrating Christmas, and yet it’s both festive and poignant, with comings and goings of extended family, weird inlaws with crazy hang-ups, and lots of alcohol & cigs. And yet, it’s written with genuine warmth and affection — it may be wild and irreverant, but these are people who enjoy each other’s company, and you can’t ask for more than that at Christmas. I love it.
Juan Foyth: A more assured, less panicky effort from Foyth, who was still tested from time to time but didn’t have nearly as many heart-in-throat moments as he has the past couple of times he’s been on the pitch. A good opponent against which to learn the ways of Premier League football.
3 stars: Albert King, “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’”
Come on, give this a listen and tell me that this isn’t great. It’s been covered a bunch, most notably by Lynyrd Skynyrd, but this is the original. You might not have it on your Christmas playlist because it’s extremely 1970s, but it’s a good enough song to come back to every now and again. Shout-out to all the dads wearing Santa costumes this Christmas. Bow chikka bow bow.
Moussa Sissoko: Had just barely enough time on the pitch to earn a ranking, but didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy. He was (all together now) FINE!
Kieran Trippier: Pretty decent defensively against the Southampton offensive juggernaut and launched a nice ball to Son that clanged off the post. Otherwise, his crossing was pretty weak, but it was his first match back. Subbed off with an injury, hopefully he’s okay.
2.5 stars: What Do You Get a Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Has a Comb)
Quite possibly the worst song from the worst officially licensed and canon Star Wars production ever put on the screen, and yet I can’t help but listen to it every year. (It’s really a problem.) It’s the auditory equivalent of bulls-eying womp rats in your T-16 back home.
Danny Rose: Played like it was his first real game action since coming back from an injury. Had glimpses here and there of the player that we know he can be, but was wildly inconsistent, both with and without the ball.
Eric Dier: I see a lot of people slating on Dier, and for good reason. Solid enough at the back in the first half, though he noticeably switched off in the second half when up big, letting Charlie Austin get loose on a couple of occasions.
Harry Winks: Winksy just isn’t the same post-ankle injury. Yes, he completed 90% of his passes, but they were almost all sideways or backwards, and defensively he was a sieve. The midfield was far less dynamic than it should’ve been with Winks and Dier as the pivot. Maybe he’ll get back to the player he was before the ankle, but for now he just doesn’t do enough good to compensate for the stuff that he’s not good at.
1 star: Gayla Peevey, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
There’s a long history of novelty Christmas songs, and some of them are cute, and/or funny. This one is neither — it’s just irritating. Try and tell me that you can listen to this once and not have it stuck in your head for days afterwards. You can’t. Also, that girl is creepy as f—k.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as “I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas”.
A Christmas Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Dele Alli, Oliver Skipp