Unless you have either been living under a rock or really REALLY don’t care (and both are perfectly fine!), you should know that the final season of HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones debuted last night. I watched it. You probably did too. It made me feel things.
So let’s celebrate our return to Westeros with an appropriately-themed player ratings article. Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their 4-0 win over Huddersfield to the theme of Starks.
5 stars: Sansa
At the beginning of the series, you would’ve been forgiven if you hated Sansa. Perhaps no other character has gone through as big of a transformation over the course of the last seven seasons, but it took her going through a political meat grinder to get her there. Regardless, Sansa has been transformed from an insipid girl into without question the most competent and powerful leader in what’s left of the Stark clan. Honestly, she should sit on the Iron Throne when the dust settles, but it’s clear she doesn’t want the job. She, more than any other character, most effectively embodies the North. And she’s fantastic. Long live Lady Stark.
Lucas Moura: Lucas’ stats absolutely pop off the page: four shots, all on target, three goals, 87% pass completion, two successful take-ons. All three of his goals were crackers, too. It was his best match in a Tottenham shirt, and it was lovely to see.
Moussa Sissoko: I still find it hard to believe that this is the same Moussa Sissoko who we screamed at the past two seasons. Started off the match with an amazing Maradona turn, completed 97% of his passes, and assisted one of Lucas’ goals. His pace and strength gave Huddersfield’s midfield fits. Just an outstanding match.
4.5 stars: Arya
Arya’s transformation from a tomboy into a cold, pragmatic assassin is dramatic, but we could see her development arc from a ways off, which makes it a little more predictable than Sansa’s. You knew right from the onset that Arya wasn’t going to be the Stark involved in political machinations — she was destined to stay in the shadows and stab people that need killin’. And yet she never loses the Starkish love for and connection to her family. She’s a friggin’ bad-ass and her scenes are among my favorite of the entire series.
Victor Wanyama: At this point I don’t think we expect much from Vic beyond “competent in midfield” due to his various injuries, but he was very good in this match, effectively marshaling the midfield against an admittedly crap Huddersfield team. More than earns his rating for dribbling the dang keeper and coolly slotting home his goal. Say this for Vic: he doesn’t score often but when he does, he scores great goals.
Hugo Lloris: Didn’t have a whole lot to do in this match but came through clutch in the second half when Spurs’ midfield fell apart. Tipped Bacuna’s free kick over the bar, prevented a few other dangerous chances, and his distribution was very good too.
Christian Eriksen: Appeared to struggle a little bit early on in the match as he once again served as Spurs’ only real creative outlet minus Kane, Dele, and Son. Improved dramatically as the match went on, created four chances, and had assisted Lucas’ second goal. Five shot attempts too, even if four were blocked.
4 stars: Jon Snow
Yes, he is too a Stark! He’s also something else which isn’t a spoiler anymore but I’ll still play it safe here. If there’s an overall hero of the series, it’s probably Jon, as the series spends an extraordinarily large amount of time with him at the Wall, and in the aftermath of his ascent to King in the North. Has faced off against White Walkers, literally died at the hands of his own Night Watch brothers, and managed to walk away from both. The problem with Jon is that he has a little too much of that bull-headed Stark belief in the goodness of humanity, and that has led him to make some pretty stupid mistakes over the series. The secret revealed at the end of season 7 makes his character arc more tragic, but literally coming back from the dead makes me think he’s now essentially bulletproof.
Fernando Llorente: Created two chances with his hold-up play over the course of the match. Even got an assist for setting up Victor Wanyama’s goal without actually touching the ball. Had a number of good looks at goal, including a self-volley that clanged off the crossbar, even if none of them connected. He did well. We will need that against City.
3.5 stars: Bran
I don’t know what to make of Bran. I can appreciate his journey from crippled child thrown out a window by the Kingslayer to the most magical and powerful being in Westeros, but the journey more or less cost him his humanity to the point where he now just sits in his chair saying cryptic things through dead eyes and not actually doing much. He’s set up to be the deus ex machina of the entire series, but I somehow doubt that the Starks are going to be getting their Bran back by the end of the show. At least not in the way they think.
Ben Davies: A competent performance from Davies, both as a left wingback and, later, on the left side of the back three. Didn’t get forward as much I would’ve hoped from a back three formation, but didn’t make any glaring mistakes either. Some of that is helped by the fact that Huddersfield is extremely bad.
Janvinson Sanchtongen: Two parts of Spurs’ opening back three formation, neither defender really had to do much until the latter part of the second half when they both effectively helped cut out a couple of dangerous Huddersfield attacks. It’s usually good when your defenders don’t have a whole lot to do.
3 stars: Catelyn Stark
OK, so she’s actually a Tully, but we’ll include her as a Stark-by-marriage. It counts. In many ways she was the true power behind Ned Stark’s throne, and her understanding of the political machinations of the great houses was an effective foil to the stoic, somewhat myopic responsibility of her husband Ned. Her dedication to her family was admirable, but it was also her Achilles heel, as we found out at the Red Wedding.
Juan Foyth: A solid enough match, though Foyth is still prone to the occasional disastrous defensive mistake and that makes me a touch nervous watching him play. Had a lot of time on the ball on the right side of a back three and was pretty safe with his passing. Set up Llorente’s shot that went off the bar.
2.5 stars: Ned
Oh, Ned. Good, trusting, dependable, stupid Ned. He’s such a good person, undoubtedly a beloved Warden of the North, and gets absolutely played for a sucker by Cersei and the Lannisters. The entire thrust of the first season is how King’s Landing and its politics just grinds through well-meaning but otherwise gullible people. Ned’s failure to see the knives in the dark condemn him to a bleak ending (but sets up the narrative structure for the entire series so watchagonnado).
Kyle Walker-Peters: In some ways, KWP has a little bit of Trippier in him, as he really knows how and when to whip in a good cross from the right flank. Created three chances in this match and gave Trips a break heading into the Etihad. I just wish he could, y’know, defend. That seems important.
2 stars: Robb
Robb Stark was out of his depth from the very beginning. Heavy weighs the crown and all that, and he was notably put into a very difficult situation by the beheading of his father, but this was a Stark unprepared for leadership, and it was glaringly obvious. He took all of Ned’s bad qualities and cranked them up to 11. Not even Cat could save him. By far the most disappointing Stark. We were in your corner!
Oliver Skipp: I don’t think it’s an accident that Spurs’ midfield looked its worst and Huddersfield had their best attacking chances of the match after Skippy came on for Sissoko in the 75th minute. He’s still a young player, but understandably his effectiveness is lessened when he doesn’t have better players around him. I don’t want to put too much emphasis on this performance, but it wasn’t a great match for Skipp.
1 star: Tony
You’d think a rich guy who can build his own suit of power armor from scraps of metal in a cave would have more of an impact in this series, but it’s like he’s completely absent from the entire narrative! You’d think he’d at least be able to take down an undead dragon. He’s probably down in Dorne flirting with some Sand Snakes or something. Maybe he’ll show up in the finale.
No Tottenham Hotspur players are as bad a Stark as Tony.
Rickon Stark Memorial Non-Rating
Much like Rickon, Danny Rose and Son Heung-Min were pretty much irrelevant in this match. Sonny at least got an assist, which is more than Rickon did.