Today’s player ratings theme would have been better on Memorial Day, but I never seem to remember to do it at the end of the Premier League season. So instead, as summer winds to an end and we near the point where it’s time to winterize the grill and store it for the cold months, let’s celebrate the art of grilled foods.
Tottenham Hotspur lost to Liverpool today at Wembley Stadium, Spurs’ second loss on the trot and a bad way to head into an away trip to the San Siro in the Champions League. But we can’t avoid it, so here are your player ratings to the theme of grilled foods.
(Also, since that was pretty much a stinker of a result for Tottenham Hotspur, it might be nice to argue about a topic and yell at me instead of discussing the actual match. You’re welcome, I am here for this community.)
5 stars: Burgers
Burgers were made to be grilled. The way a properly grilled burger tastes — seared on the outside, pink and juicy on the inside, with that smoky hint that fully complements the umami of the beef — you can’t get that from any other burger preparation method. Yes, say the purists, you lose a bit of the fat from the burger as it cooks, but that’s offset by the flavor from the smoke. Burgers are 95% of what I use my home grill for, and if you do nothing but grill burgers on your grill you’re doing God’s work.
Toby Alderweireld: On a day when Spurs were let down by their fullbacks and midfielders, Spurs’ centerbacks were phenomenal, and none better than Toby. Liverpool are a menace on offense, and Alderweireld snuffed out numerous attacks before they could become threats.
4.5 stars: Steak
A perfectly grilled steak is one of the best things you can eat, but the reason it’s not at 5 stars is that you can achieve equal, if not better, results with a pan sear and a finish in the oven. I have my pan-seared steak procedure down cold. After many years of grilling, I’m still afraid I’m going to f—k up my grilled steaks.
Jan Vertonghen: The only reason why Jan doesn’t get five along with Toby is that he got turned a couple of times by Mane or Salah. He and Toby were the main reason Spurs didn’t lose by 5. Was lucky not to score an own goal for Liverpool’s second.
Erik Lamela: Changed the game when he came on for Mousa Dembele at the hour mark. Scored one, nearly scored a second. He should probably start at Inter.
4 stars: Corn on the Cob
I love grilled vegetables — zucchini, peppers, potatoes, asparagus, eggplant are all delicious on the grill, but if I’m forced to choose only one veggie, I’m making it corn. Grilled corn is one of the best things about summer for me. The sweetness of the corn complements the smokiness from the grilling process. Add some butter and salt, squeeze a bit of lime over the top, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
This is an empty category, I just couldn’t do this ranking without including corn.
3.5 stars: Meat in tube form
This is a catch-all category that includes hot dogs, brats, sausages... anything ground to a fine paste and stuffed inside of a casing. They are delicious! I love them! I just don’t love them more than the things that are ranked above them in this list!
Christian Eriksen: One of the few players to actually generate offense, but wasn’t given a lot of room to operate by Liverpool’s midfield. Had an awful header in the first half that led to the corner on which Liverpool scored. A decent, though far from dominant, match.
3 stars: Chicken breast
Grilled chicken can taste good, but it’s such a lean piece of meat that it’s extremely easy to overcook the exterior before the inside of the chicken reaches a safe temperature. Or you have to pound it to a uniform thickness and then constantly flip to get it to cook right. Don’t grill chicken breasts. If you must grill chicken, make it thighs.
Lucas Moura: Pretty bad in the first half, looked better in the second and went close. I actually thought he was the most dangerous when he was shifted out wide late in the match. Mayyyyyybe he should #actually be a winger and not a center forward? Just spitballing here.
Harry Kane: Didn’t get a whole lot of service (again) and was playing a deeper, more reserved role (again). Still went close a couple of times. Starting to think that Kane NEEDS to be the tip of the spear to get the most out of him. Let’s go back to that.
Son Heung-Min: It’s great when you can bring on Sonny as a late impact sub to change the game. He didn’t exactly do that but kept Liverpool’s defenders honest. Should’ve earned a penalty after he got his foot kicked from under him in Liverpool’s box late.
Mousa Dembele: Perhaps a controversial ranking, but considering how overall putrid Spurs’ midfield was on this match, Moose was the only player who was actually progressing the ball through the center of the pitch.
2 stars: Pizza
The best pizzas are the ones that are cooked in 900º brick fired ovens, and there’s no way apart from the grill that your average home cook can duplicate that kind of cooking. But I’ve NEVER had a grilled pizza turn out right. Home grills cook unevenly so you end up with part of the crust raw and part charred beyond recognition, and pizza doughs are generally wetter and can stick to the grill plates. Also they spend such a little time on the grill itself that the cheese won’t properly melt or the toppings heat to the right temperature. Stick to the oven on a pizza stone, or just call Domino’s.
Kieran Trippier: It’s the same problem that we keep harping on: Trippier’s plusses going forward do not begin to compensate for his defensive liabilities, especially in a back four. Had one decent ball from the flank but got smoked by Mane for Liverpool’s second goal and left acres of space behind him.
Danny Rose: I thought Danny’s pace might be an upgrade over Davies when it comes to defending Liverpool’s attackers. It didn’t seem to help much. Salah and Robertson kept him pinned back most of the match and he looked absolutely exhausted by the end.
Harry Winks: I was excited to see Winks in the lineup, but he was pretty awful on Saturday. Most of Liverpool’s attacks in the channels came on his side of the pitch, and he did virtually nothing progressive with the ball. Liverpool’s a tough opponent and Winksy is better than what he showed on Saturday, but he was at best a non factor and at worst a liability.
Eric Dier: I’m only being a little hyperbolic when I say this was probably one of Dier’s worst games in a Tottenham shirt. Looked rattled from the very beginning, and had a lot of trouble keeping the ball... not great when you’re trying to shield the defensive line against Salah, Firmino, and Mane.
Michel Vorm: It’s time for an upgrade. Absolutely at fault for Liverpool’s first goal, should’ve done better at Liverpool’s second goal, and I’m pretty sure he makes the back line nervous. Had a couple of decent stops throughout but most were fired straight at him. Put me on Team GAZINGA until Hugo gets back.
1 star: Fish
You have a perfectly good piece of fish and instead of treating it with the care and love it deserves you’re going to stick it on a direct heat source where it will more likely disintegrate than turn into something that is worth eating? Unless you are grilling a whole fish — and let’s be honest, of course you’re not — FOH.
No Tottenham players were as bad as putting fish on the grill.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating