Well, it wasn’t exactly a FUN match. Tottenham Hotspur went to Vicarage Road to face a surging Watford side and ended up with a 0-0 draw. Paulo Gazzaniga made a heroic penalty save in the second half, and Erik Lamela was literally millimeters away from winning the match late. Alas, it’s a point apiece, which Watford will probably like much more than Spurs will.
Today let’s have some fun by using a controversial theme — pizza. Not just pizza, but American national pizza chains. It’s a theme that needs some winnowing down, because “national” doesn’t mean “a shitload in California but only one in Indianapolis,” they have to be fairly ubiquitous and spread all over. So sorry, California Pizza Kitchen and Pieology, you’re out. It also has to deliver. Sayonara, Papa Murphy’s (which is a take-and-bake chain where you bake the pizza at home and seriously, what the fuck). It also must be pizza and not casserole — bye Uno Chicago.
What’s left is still a pretty decent selection of American chain pizza eateries, and these are the best/worst of the bunch. Let’s be perfectly clear — almost all pizza is good, even bad pizza, but there’s definitely a difference between GOOD bad pizza and BAD bad pizza.
And to our non-American readers? Your pizza sucks (Italy excepted).
5 stars: Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut pizza is the best ubiquitous chain pizza you can buy in the USA. Most of that is because of the crust — Pizza Hut’s crust is crispy, but with a good amount of “give” in it so that you aren’t biting on shattering shards of bread. The cheese is gooey and tastes like mozzarella, the sauce is thick and tangy, and the toppings are plentiful. Pizza Hut is also lodged in my childhood memories, as it was the only place in town that had a sit-down two player Ms. Pac-Man console table.
Paulo Gazzaniga (Community — 7.9 ): He didn’t have too much to do, but stepped up when it counted, making a couple of outstanding stops and a very good penalty save that rescued a point. He’s still at best a replacement-level keeper, but he came up big in this match.
4 stars: Domino’s
When I was in college, Domino’s pizza was traaaaaaaaash. It was also the only pizza in town at the time, so we ordered it and ate it because, hey, it’s still pizza and pizza is good. Since then it has left my area and also revamped itself completely and become, I’m told, much much better pizza. I have not tried it since probably 2005, but this rating is based on the reports from my Carty Free colleagues. What apparently hasn’t changed is the Exxon Valdez-level grease slick that ends up on top of every pie.
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 6.2): Kept Deulofeu and Deeney quiet for much of the match and also was able to help out Aurier when needed. A solid match.
Giovani Lo Celso (Community — 6.6): Flashy on the ball, good in the press, he was probably Spurs’ best offensive weapon against Watford. Also started to show the creative genius we saw at Betis but he hasn’t developed yet at Spurs. More, please.
3.5 stars: Papa John’s
Papa Johns doesn’t have the best pizza, but their sauce is probably the best of any major chain in the country. Yes, other chains have sauce that’s nearly as good and many have crust that’s crisper (Papa’s is pretty soft all around), but Papa Johns serves garlic butter sauce with every pie, plus pepperocini in every box. That tips the balance.
Serge Aurier (Community — 5.8): I would like nothing better than to strap Aurier to a rocket headed for the sun, but credit where due — he was pretty good at Watford. Serge was effective going forward, put in a couple of good balls from the flank, and had no major defensive errors.
3 stars: Little Caesar’s
Real talk now — Little Caesar’s isn’t the best pizza. The crust is thin, the cheese is substandard, the toppings are numerous but just ok. However, when you’re in college and broke and hungry, or even if you’re not in college, the fact that you can walk into a Little Caesars at 11 pm and pick up a Hot ‘N Ready cheese pie for $5 is amazing. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s cromulent, and sometimes with pizza that’s all you need. (Bonus: apparently the Little Caesars CEO/owner quietly paid Rosa Parks’ rent for a number of years before her death.)
Japhet Tanganga (Community — 5.4): #TangGang may be fast and good with the ball at his feet, but he’s not a left back. Sarr had him turned around on a number of occasions, and Japhet also picked up a cheap (and kinda bullshit) yellow card. Also got kicked in the knee that should’ve earned at least a yellow for Capoue. I’m fine with him getting more minutes — but let’s keep it at CB or RB.
Harry Winks (Community — 5.4): I don’t know what else to say about Winks at this point. Had one nice pass to Sonny but was a defensive sieve. Not awful, but definitely not great either. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Erik Lamela (Community — 5.7): I expected a lot more out of Erik than I got. Nearly poked home the winner in a goalmouth scramble but while he looked decent in the press he was pretty absent offensively. His role may just be a late game high energy impact sub now.
Jose Mourinho (Community —5.3): I know he’s hamstrung by injuries to key players and this didn’t feel like typical Mou ball but a 0-0 away draw does feel awfully on brand, don’t you think?
2.5 stars: Godfather’s
In truth it’s been a while since I’ve had a Godfather’s pie, but what I mostly remember was it being gummy and heavy, and overall substandard. “A pizza you can’t refuse?” Try me. Don’t trust pizza chains named after movies about Italian mobsters.
Dele (Community — 5.1 ): Not sure what’s going on with Dele but after a string of good performances under Mou he’s been lackluster and ineffective for about 3-4 matches now. Tiredness? Frustration? He works hard but it doesn’t look like he’s having fun.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 5.3): In Harry Kane’s absence, Mourinho has decided to play Sonny in his usual wide position instead of up top as the tip of the spear, and the results have been mixed. Without a hold-up man, Sonny was again underwhelming going forward. Of the few chances he did get, most of them went over the bar. I’d give a lot for one of Sonny’s finishing “purple patches” right now, but we could start by playing him centrally.
Lucas Moura (Community — 5.2): He is not a striker.
2 stars: Cicis
While Little Caesar’s is cheap and decent, Cicis is cheap and bad. The premise of Cicis is a pizza buffet for $6, which is great, but you actually have to make Cicis a destination to eat there, and who wants that? I can get substandard pizza under heat lamps at my corner gas station. The crust resembles a soggy cardboard box, and tastes about the same. The only thing Cicis has going for it is unlimited food, but when the pizza itself is this bad, is that REALLY a good thing?
Jan Vertonghen (Community — 5.2): I hate to be the one who says it, but I’m gonna say it — Jan’s washed. He’s lost a step, he’s much more error prone, didn’t work well with Tanganga, and had the hand ball that nearly cost Spurs the match. His contract expires in June. We should probably let it.
1 star: Sbarro
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as Sbarro pizza.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Christian Eriksen (He was there), Gedson Fernandes (A decent debut, Gedson appears to be basically Sissoko, But Can Pass)