Hey, look — a Tottenham Hotspur win! I’d almost forgotten what it felt like. Spurs, if I may borrow a phrase from Michael Caley & Mike Goodman’s podcast The Double Pivot, handed off the Crisis Conch with a 2-1 win over Brighton at the AmEx stadium on Saturday. The win allowed everyone to breathe a sigh of relief, even if things got a little scary there at the end because Spurs can never make it easy.
Time to rank the players! This week’s theme is timely, because we’re entering into one of the best times of the year, so let’s rank the players to Months of the Year.
Important note: these rankings are mine, and are obviously heavily influenced by the fact that I live in the midwestern United States. You probably live somewhere else, which means that the climate might be something different. That’s okay! Your rankings are still wrong, and mine are correct.
5 stars: October/June (tie)
There are two months out of the year that hit the sweet spot between not-too-hot and not-too-cold. June is one, October is the other. June gets the first warm-enough-for-shorts weather and pretty flowers; October gets the pleasantly-cool weather and pretty leaves. Both represent the best of the midway point between the summer/winter polar opposites.
Erik Lamela: Again a game-changing substitution in the second half. He added the right amount of energy, skill, and sharp elbows to turn the match around. His goal was magnificent. His elbow to the face of Sean Duffy, drawing blood, was even more so.
4 stars: December
December is cold as f—k, I know, but at least in the midwest it’s also usually very pretty. There are also the best holidays midway through the month, meaning everyone gets a holiday break of some kind. If you’re in academia, you get a couple of weeks off to drink mulled wine, open presents, spend time with family, and watch craploads of festive football. What’s not to love?
Harry Kane: Finally! Harry’s back! It’s taken a while, and maybe his two August goals inured us to the possibility that he still needs a month or so to get in the swing of things, but he really turned it on, especially in the second half. His penalty was FORCEFUL, and while he didn’t score in the second half he was shooting it the way we remember from when he was actually good.
Janby Alderweirtonghen: I was afraid this summer I would never be able to type this name into a player ratings article. Thankfully, Janby lives to see another day. Both were very good at nullifying the threat of Glenn Whelan and especially Knockaert, who gave both Spurs fullbacks problems on the day.
3.5 stars: May
May is my personal favorite month, but mostly because it’s my birth month. I’ve always enjoyed the way May epitomizes spring — the leaves are coming out on the trees, the tulips are out and start to bloom, the redbud trees are in their full glory. It also spends half the time under the 50 F. temperature mark and the other half raining.
Danny Rose: One of the better matches I’ve seen from Rose since his return from injury, and a very encouraging display, especially going forward. His cutback to Lamela for Spurs’ second goal was a nice contrast to the “lump a cross towards the middle” tactic that we often see. On the flipside, got badly beaten twice by Knockaert. Once, he recovered and made a goal-saving tackle. The other, he got smoked, THEN had his ankles broken, ended up on his ass, and Knockaert scored. That’s not great, but he did enough other good things to counterbalance it.
Christian Eriksen: Looked very good in the first half in terrible weather conditions, but his teammates weren’t really moving into the channels and the stuff he was trying didn’t really come off. Faded a bit in the second half, but still pretty solid. Still feels like he’s not out of second gear yet this season.
Eric Dier: That’s a bit more like it. Brighton didn’t really press all that much so Dier had a lot more time to think in midfield. That’s probably why he looked a lot better out there than he has the past few games. Not by any means perfect, but he was pretty good!
3 stars: September
September is... fine. It’s fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with September. School’s starting again, it’s not quite as hot as August, it feels like the usual routines are all starting back up. All good things And those same reasons are why nobody in particular loves it. September? Sure, whatever.
Son Heung-Min: Didn’t do anything especially great, or anything especially poor. The weather conditions probably didn’t suit his game all that much, as this was not a match where Spurs could rely on his speed or dribbling.
Mousa Dembele: Same as with Eric Dier. He had less pressure, and was able to do more Dembele-ish things. In past years he would’ve throttled the midfield. On Saturday, he was merely good. And that’s still not great.
Lucas Moura: Another whose playing style was probably hampered by the soggy conditions. Showed glimpses of good things, but also tended to fade into the background. Can we just play him wide? I feel like he might, IDK, be good there.
2.5 stars: January
Take December, subtract the cool holidays, and add an extra couple doses of BUTT-ASS COLD. That’s January. Counterpoint: MLK Day, which is awesome. More holidays celebrating amazing people of color, plz.
Paulo Gazzaniga: My initial takes on GAZINGA were pretty good, but that’s in comparison to Michel Vorm, who has been pretty butt the past three matches. And yes, he made a couple of decent saves, has a good leg on him, and his delivery was decent. But he also did this, and we were spared a really stupid goal only because Sian Massey-Ellis is an amazing lineswoman (seriously, why is she not officiating matches?).
2 stars: March
March gives you all the bad weather of spring, plus the added F—K YOU of it still being cold like February. It’s also the busiest month of the year at my job in academia, easily. The only good thing about March is that it features the single best sports event in the history of the world, which makes it bearable, barely. (And no, I’m not talking about the FA Cup.)
Kieran Trippier: I feel like a broken record, so I’m just going to re-post my paragraph from last week. Just substitute “Knockaert” for Mane and “Brighton” for Liverpool. “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 goal and left acres of space behind him.”
1 star: February
February is trash. Oh sure, the weather MIGHT be warming up, but only just enough to mostly melt the snow and leaving a sludge of half-frozen mud and decaying leaves in its wake. The sky is still iron gray. It’s still uncomfortably cold. The flu is running rampant. The only decent holiday is Valentine’s Day, which is FRAUGHT with subtext. It also has a stupid number of days, except every four years when it has an even MORE stupid number of days. February is a month to endure, not enjoy.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as trash as the month of February.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Dele Alli. Looked pretty good in his brief cameo, though. Welcome back Dele — we need you.