The 168th North London Derby is in the books, and ended in a 2-2 draw. That’s not a bad result for Spurs, who typically don’t do well at the Emirates in the Premier League, even though they dropped a 2-0 first half lead.
However good the match was for the neutrals, the on-pitch performances were a little weird. Nobody played especially great, but there were some good and bad performances over the 90+ minutes of action. We’re here to give you the masthead’s picks.
The past few weeks we’ve been using this article to also give you the results of the community player ratings as well. And we still plan to do that — just not here! Starting this week, we have a new contributor who will be outlining how you voted in what we hope will be a more interesting way than my incessant blathering. And there will be visuals! That’ll be coming in another day or so.
Here are the Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of global football derbies.
5 stars: North London Derby
Hello, this is a Tottenham Hotspur blog. But seriously, is there a derby in world football that’s as much fun as the NLD is at the moment? The two fan bases still loathe each other, there’s plenty of banter, and yet strangely there’s also almost always actual good, mostly equal, football happening on the pitch. That’s becoming increasingly rare in modern derbies. Long live the NLD!
No Tottenham Hotspur players reached the gaudy heights that you expect from the spectacle of a North London Derby.
4 stars: Revierderby / Der Klassiker
I couldn’t decide which Dortmund derby I wanted to go with so I put them as a tie. The Revierderby (Dortmund vs. Schalke) is hard-fought, usually fun, and most importantly regional. Der Klassiker is quite simply the two best teams in Germany duking it out, and quite often they’re fun to watch.
Christian Eriksen: That’s more like it. Dangerous, creative, and in the right position to tap in the spilled shot from Lamela. Worked right until the final whistle and did his fair share of tracking back to help defend. Booked for petulantly kicking the ball away after a foul, but he once again showed why he’s so important to this offense.
Son Heung-Min: Was fast, direct, and dangerous, especially in the first half. Won Spurs’ penalty and had another lovely crack from distance that forced a good save from Leno. Lost some of his spark in the second half when Arsenal put Spurs under pressure and seemed strangely hesitant when dribbling into traffic. Subbed off late in the match.
Harry Kane: Not as many shots as we usually see from him in a NLD, but took his penalty well and nearly had a second when he smacked the post from an acute angle. Was very involved in the Air Raid offense in the first half. Should’ve had another crack at a penalty after being shoved down in the box.
Toby Alderweireld: Neither team’s defense was exactly stout in this match but Toby was clearly the best defender on the pitch Sunday. Pretty composed (seven clearances) and bailed out on Hugo’s short pass blunder. However, just 2/6 on his trademark long passes from deep.
3.5 stars: Superclassico
There are tons of pretty decent rivalries in South American football but few have transcended to downright bonkers world-famous violence quite like River Plate vs. Boca Juniors. Just ask River alum Erik Lamela. It’s maybe the most INTENSE derby in world football. In 2004 the Observer said it “makes the Old Firm game look like a primary school kick-about.”
Giovani Lo Celso: Silky smooth and hella fun as Sonny’s substitute, playing in a deeper midfield role, and helped Spurs break out of their second half funk. His highlight reel wouldn’t be spectacular, but he had some nice runs to get himself in good positions for passes that never came. Boy, I like him. Let’s play him more
Jan Vertonghen: Sure didn’t look unfit out there, but looked a tad rusty and flat footed at times; was right there on both of Arsenal’s goals. The defense just naturally works better when he’s on the pitch, though.
Mauricio Pochettino: Tinkerman Poch strikes again as he took what looked like a back three lineup and turned it into a back four with Sanchez at RB. Did it work? Ehh, sort of — bringing back the Air Raid in the first half was effective against Arsenal’s midfield, but he was slow to adjust to Arsenal’s pressure with Dani Ceballos in the second half. Feels like this was a match that was there for the taking, but I don’t have any serious critiques with how Poch played it on the road at the Emirates. But can we see GLC start now, please?
3 stars: Manchester
Local derby? Check. Two extremely passionate fan bases? Check. Two teams more or less on equal footing? Ehhhhhhhhh... There might have been a couple of years in between Fergie leaving and City’s resurgence where they were equal, but otherwise one is almost always significantly better than the other. They do sometimes play some good football, though.
Hugo Lloris: Had some pretty spectacular saves to keep Arsenal out, but was at times horrendous with his distribution, especially his short passing with his feet. Nearly gifted Arsenal the stupidest of goals, and the press was that much harder to break because Hugo kept giving the ball to the CBs to play out of the back at the wrong time. You take the good with the bad; it evens out in the end.
Dele: Yes, he was rusty and didn’t quite look in sync with the rest of his team, but there were sparks of the old Dele here and there and he worked his butt off at a time where Spurs were seriously under the cosh. He was fine.
Erik Lamela: Had the shot that Leno spilled and Eriksen tapped in, and was a hard worker in the first half. Was playing on the knife’s edge between effective shithousery and a straight red card, and was rightfully subbed off for Dele.
2.5 stars: Merseyside
On paper the Merseyside Derby ticks all the boxes of what you want in a rivalry: two local teams with stadia separated by literal yards, diametrically opposed red/blue kits, lots of blood and thunder. But can it be called a rivalry when you have to go back to 2010 to find the last time Everton actually WON one of these? In fact, the Toffees have won only three times in their last 30 meetings. That’s the derby equivalent of your big brother slapping you with your own hand and asking “Why are you hitting yourself, why are you hitting yourself”.
Harry Winks: Winks’ contributions came, unusually, on the defensive end, and he set up Spurs’ penalty. Unfortunately he was making defensive plays because Spurs’ midfield was overrun for the majority of the match. Good pass completion, but struggled to get on the ball and do things with it and got dribbled past a fair bit. Gets bonus points for winding up Sokratis, but Spurs’ midfield was pretty bad throughout the match. The major thing Winks had going for him in this match was that Sissoko was much worse.
2 stars: El Traffico
It’s got a cute name, but the rest of this derby suuuuuucks. Zlatan is old, LA isn’t as important or relevant as it wants to think it is, the LA teams are pretty hatable if you don’t live in LA, and MLS still can’t hold a candle to the quality of the top European leagues. You can throw rocks at me on Twitter at @dustingm.
Danny Rose: Not the best of outings from Danny who was somewhat profligate with the ball going forward and shithoused his way to a yellow card, but he had a couple of key defensive stops including one at the back post after Spurs took the early lead. Still, his performances have trended down since the first match of the season. This was easily his worst outing.
Moussa Sissoko: Another ineffective match in central midfield from Sissoko, who looked like he wasn’t entirely clear what he was supposed to be doing out there. Whatever it was, it rarely worked. And his shooting... sheesh.
Davinson Sanchez: Look, I feel a little bad writing this because Davinson Sanchez is not a right back and was playing as a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency right back-like substance. But holy moly, that was bad. Please heal quickly, Kyle Walker-Peters, and let us never speak of this again.
1 star: El Clasico
Am I trolling? Well, yes I am. But still, despite it featuring ostensibly two of the best teams in world football — Barcelona and Real Madrid — this derby usually isn’t nearly as good as what everyone seems to think it should be. Thanks to corporate interests and way, WAY too many yearly meetings, it’s been diluted to the point of being absolutely tiresome. The thing about derbies are they’re fun because they only happen at most a couple times a year. This one happens about five times too often per year.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as El Classico