Happy (Merry) Christmas, Tottenham Hotspur fans! I hope that whether you celebrate the holiday or not that you find happiness on this day with friends, family, or people with which you like to spend time.
I’m just back from a family trip and so a little bit behind on the Chelsea post-match stuff, so my apologies for the delay. Today’s player rating theme is appropriate and I can’t believe we haven’t done this yet — Christmas carols. Not “songs,” mind you — CAROLS. The dictionary defines a carol as “A religious folk song or popular hymn, particularly one associated with Christmas,” and that’s the definition we’re using here. There are tons of Christmas songs that are out there, but “Run Run Reindeer” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” aren’t sacred, nor are they carols. But we know what a carol is, so as the only professional musician on the staff at Cartilage Free Captain I am here to provide you once again with a 100% correct opinion.
It’s a big category. Not all categories are going to have player ratings in them. Most of the player ratings are going to be at the bottom because duh. And yes, I 100% missed or misranked your favorite Christmas carol, sorry not sorry.
Here are your player ratings for Tottenham vs. Chelsea to the theme of Christmas carols.
6 stars: A Christmas Tom Carroll
I like to post these articles every Christmas because they’re so damn good. Words by Skipjack, graphics by the Earl of Shoop. If you’ve never read these before... well, you’re in for a treat.
5 stars: Angels We Have Heard on High
The best carols are the ones that offer something musically interesting to everyone, and this one has that in spades. The hymn itself is gloriously uplifting, clear as the night sky, the melody is easy to sing, and the harmonies are actually interesting to sing, assuming that you sing in four-part harmony. The melismatic chorus of “Gloria in excelsis Deo” flies through the air like the fluttering of angels wings. There are many great Christmas carols. This one is the best.
LOL like anyone got anywhere near this level in that tire-fire of a match.
4.5 stars: Deck the Halls
What elevates this carol above the others on this list? It’s simple — it’s a Renaissance Welsh call-and-response song, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to sing “Fa-la-la-la-laaaa-la-la-la-laaa”.
4 stars: Silent Night
Is there a carol that more perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Christmas than Silent Night? It is ubiquitous for a reason — it is a fantastic song, a simple, singable lullaby that captures the tranquil peacefulness of the Christmas night. The only knock on it is the melody goes pretty high (a range spanning an octave and a fourth), and it’s frequently started in the wrong key so people end up squeaking the “Sleep in heavenly peace” line.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 5.6): Let’s be real here — Spurs were a hot mess, but Davi put in one of his better performances of the season against Chelsea. Sure, at times his defending looked a little panicked (it probably was!) but he was by far the best defender in Spurs’ back line on the day and might have saved Spurs from conceding another goal or two.
3.5 stars: Go Tell It On the Mountain
You can’t have a list of Christmas Carols without Go Tell It On the Mountain. There’s an entire realm of underappreciated African-American holiday spirituals, but this one rises to the top. It is unambiguously joyful and fun to sing, perfectly capturing the powerful jubilation expressed in the birth of Christ. Just try and sing this without clapping on beats two and four.
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 5.7): It may not seem like it thanks to the notable defensive lapses by Aurier and others, but Chelsea only generated 0.5 xG in this match, and Toby was one of the reasons why. He had his hands full with Tammy Abraham but made some decent stops during the match.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community —5.8): It was a cameo, but you could instantly see Spurs’ midfield get better as soon as he took the pitch. NOW can we start him? PLEASE?
3 stars: Joy to the World
I love this carol because of the simple, effective opening melody that simply descends down an entire major scale octave. I used to use this hymn to teach kids what an octave scale was, since they all know this song anyway. Like others on this list, it is a carol of joy and triumph, everyone knows it, and it’s fun to sing.
Jan Vertonghen (Community — 5.0): Jan didn’t do anything especially wrong that I could tell, it’s just that he was part of an overall pretty meh team display. He’s not a left back that’s going to get forward, and I wonder whether bringing Danny Rose in from the cold might have been a better choice against Chelsea.
Moussa Sissoko (Community — 4.9): Lord love him, he tried. Had some good progressive carries and did his best to mitigate the worst of Aurier’s defensive lapses, but nothing really seemed to work. Picked up an orange card for a late tackle. Also did a bunch of typically Sissoko-esque stuff, good and bad.
Harry Kane (Community — 4.0): IDK, this is probably too high considering he skied one of his trademark snap shots and didn’t do much else. But I can’t help but feel he did... kinda okay with the (very) little he was given in this match?
2.5 stars: Good King Wenceslas
This is one of those carols that you hear every winter in some setting or another. But do you know the lyrics past the second line? You don’t. Nobody does. You don’t know what the Feast of Stephen is either, admit it. So it’s the rare carol that everyone knows and yet nobody sings or understands. Which is weird, so why is it a thing? Catchy tune, though. 2.5 stars.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.5): Not great, Bob! Eric wasn’t helped by Serge Aurier being terrible, requiring Moussa Sissoko to bail out the right flank defensively and leaving Eric on his own in the midfield. But Lordy, he wasn’t great, either.
Christian Eriksen (Community — 4.3): The midfield had a little more pop with him in it than it did with Dier, but by the time he came on Spurs were down 2, and after the Son red card there was little chance for Eriksen to make much of a difference. And his dead-ball delivery (all together now) rarely beat the first man.
Dele Alli (Community — 4.3): Dele gets petulant when things aren’t going his way, and picked up a dumb, avoidable yellow after his confrontation with Mateo Kovacic. Dele’s a player who at his best can dictate the tempo of the game and create things out of nothing. He... uh, wasn’t at his best.
2 stars: Carol of the Bells
As a piece of instrumental music, Carol of the Bells is lovely, one of the few minor-key carols that has become part of Christmas tradition. As a carol, it sucks. I get that it’s written to sound like the pealing of church bells, and it does — but it’s a beast to sing, both melodically and lyrically, and no matter how good the singers are as a listener you can’t understand the damn words anyway. It is not meant to be sung, it is meant to be played.
Paulo Gazzaniga (Community — 2.7): Some of the players in this match had bad overall games, but Gazinga gets here for one colossally stupid mistake. His decision to attempt to karate kick Alonso instead of, IDK, punching the damn ball led to the penalty and put the match out of reach. That ranks up there with the dumbest of lazy backpasses by Kyle Walker or Eric Dier on the Spurs Stupidity List.
Serge Aurier (Community — 2.6): Y’all. I’m done. I’m 100% done with Serge. He was absolutely dismal all match, and going completely brain dead on Chelsea’s first goal was only the start of it. Play Juan Foyth. Promote a youth player. I really don’t care anymore. Just not him.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 2.9): It honestly pains me to put Sonny this low but man, he deserves it. Fans can reasonably disagree as to whether his red card was justified, but you understand why it was given, and his kicking out at Rudigert was 100% intentional. He needs to cut that shit out of his game ASAP and/or go to anger management counseling.
Lucas Moura (Community — 3.5): Awful performance. Extremely wayward with his passing, out of position, and didn’t help out defensively the way we’ve come to expect from him. Also partly culpable for Willian’s first goal.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 3.3): Managers always get lower ratings when their team loses and he’s always been a reactive gaffer, but it sure looked like Frank Lampard had him twigged from the opening kick, and he had no answers for what Frank was trying to do.
1 star: O Holy Night
There are so many reasons why I hate this carol — it’s slow, it’s overly long, the melody is uninspired, you always, ALWAYS have to sit through someone singing this at the church or municipal Christmas service, and you need to be a goddamn opera singer to do it justice. Be honest, very few people sing this well. You’re just sitting there listening to this terrible song waiting for the singer to hit that high note (you know which one), and you just know they’re gonna butcher it. You know it’ll be awful. And it is. Every single time.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as O Holy Night. (Though some of them got close.)
Humbug Memorial Non-Rating