We’ve talked about a lot of things surrounding the 2-2 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, because it was one of those games that was exciting and dramatic and absolutely bananas. But one thing we haven’t yet talked about are the actual player ratings.
It was a weird match on a lot of different levels, and that made rating the players a bit challenging. The first half was significantly different in terms of player performance than the second half, and besides, it won’t matter how I actually rate the players, everyone will still call me a stupid idiot.
So instead, let’s focus on the theme. We discovered recently that the entire Tottenham Hotspur locker room is obsessed with the card game Uno. And for good reason — Uno is extremely fun and simple to learn. But, it’s also super, duper basic. I taught my kids how to play Uno when they were three.
There are a lot of other card games that are both a lot more fun than Uno but also equally appropriate for footballers, whether they’re playing in between training sessions or on the team bus or plane on the way to a match. There are a lot MORE card games that are a lot of fun, but might not be appropriate for your average professional athlete. Here are your player ratings to the theme of non-Uno card games for professional football teams.
In putting together these rankings, I put as much thought into whether or not I could see Victor Wanyama cursing out Jan Vertonghen over a round as I did on the overall rules and quality of the game. Dutch Blitz is a favorite of mine, not just because it’s a staple of Pennsylvania Dutch gaming culture, but also because it’s fast-paced, extremely interactive, great with multiple players, and a LOT of fun. If I ever got the chance to introduce a card game to these Spurs players, this is the one I’d pick.
Jan Vertonghen: The main reason why Spurs didn’t give up more goals to Liverpool in that match was because of Jan Vertonghen, who was a rock on the back line. About the only thing you might criticize him on is letting Salah dribble past him on Liverpool’s second, but then Salah dribbled past everyone. Jan was my Man of the Match.
Victor Wanyama: Vic came into this match with a lot on the line, and he came through in spades. He gave the center of midfield some much needed solidity. And that thunderbastard of a shot! Whooooo mama! *fans self*
Erik Lamela: I mean, he earned a point for us by getting kicked in the ass. If that’s not worth a 5-star rating, I don’t know what is. Luv u, Erik.
We argued over which of these two to include, because they’re both really good card games, and ultimately I decided to just include both of them. They are both easy to learn, quick in duration, and can be played anywhere. Apparently Spades was a favorite time-killer game of President Obama on Air Force One, and Bill Clinton preferred Hearts, so they have good pedigrees.
Mousa Dembele: A bit of an odd game for Moose. He seemed to struggle with ball possession at times in midfield, but he was still did very good things over the course of the game and was a big reason why Spurs didn’t get blown out in the first half.
Kieran Trippier: I was quite pleased with Trippier’s performance against what is an especially scary Liverpool front attacking band. He was solid defensively and was able to get forward with support from Davinson Sanchez and (later) Dier behind him. A good showing.
Dele Alli: Dele was an integral part of Spurs’ offense, especially in the second half. He linked up well with the other attackers and was popping up all over the pitch. Would be higher if not for that shameful dive in the box which rightfully earned him a yellow card.
You might know this game as “President,” or “American Capitalist,” or even “A—hole.” A great party game, but it requires at least five people to play effectively, and it’s better with more. Players are ranked and ordered every turn based on when they get rid of all their cards, and the bottom two players have to exchange the top two players their best cards for the others’ worst. You can scale up the number of players by adding multiple decks of cards. Could be a hit on the annual retreat in Barcelona.
Son Heung-Min: Tricky, direct, but a little too heavy with his touches at times. Gave Liverpool’s defenders a lot to think about, though.
Christian Eriksen: It’s hard to follow up on a super sublime outing like he had against Manchester United. Instead, Eriksen was quietly very good, taking a back seat in the build-up of play but coming through when it counted. His blocked shot led to Wanyama’s blast, so that’s almost like an assist, right?
Euchre is very much a midwestern United States favorite, but it’s branched out over the years. A team game with a shortened deck, rotating trumps, and with fast tricks, it’s one that I love to introduce to new people. Takes four (and only four) players to play, though, so you either end up with multiple games going or one game with a bunch of spectators, and it’s not scaleable.
Ben Davies: Marshalled Salah and Mane pretty well, all things considered. Certainly better than the LAST time he faced them at Anfield. He was pretty good, all things considered, and he had a tough job.
Hugo Lloris: Let in two goals, but he didn’t really have a chance to stop either one. Was very involved in the buildup of play as Liverpool’s press frequently pushed the ball back to him, and he coped very well in those situations.
Harry Kane: Got the match-drawing last-gasp penalty, but only after he missed his first one with a uncharacteristically poor penalty kick. He was also much quieter than I expect out of Harry with a match this big on the line. I think he only had 1 or 2 shots on the day.
I like poker just fine, and it works with a small group of players. However, to play poker right you really need to play for money, or chips or something. For this reason, it’s less applicable to quick locker room “hey lets play cards” applications. I can totally see Eric Dier owning a green felt table and wearing one of those green cellophane visor hats, though.
Davinson Sanchez: Anfield’s a tough place to play, and young center backs sometimes don’t play well for inexplicable reasons. Was unusually wayward with his passing, even though he put in some very tidy defensive tackles and stops over the course of his shift. It’s difficult to say that Sanchez being subbed off for Lamela wasn’t the right decision, though.
Eric Dier: A tale of two halves (and two positions) for Eric. Made some key mistakes in the first half while at DM, including the back-pass toe poke that ended up being a perfect through ball to Salah. Was somewhat ironically improved when he was pushed back into central defense, though. Not his best of outings. Is it finally time to give Victor a look?
Unpopular opinion alert! Bridge is a fine game, but it’s HARD to learn and has byzantine, moderately incomprehensible rules. Can you imagine a squad of Tottenham Hotspur players trying to learn how to play Bridge? I can’t.
No Tottenham players are as difficult as Bridge.
Split a deck in two, turn over the top card, high card wins. Easy, to be sure. But boring, and 100% reliant on chance. Leave it to the seven-year olds.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as War.