It won’t win any style points, but Tottenham Hotspur did come away with an important 3-1 victory over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Wednesday. The win, which featured a goal from Son Heung-Min and a brace from Harry Kane, was kind of dour for much of it and won’t be one that the neutrals will remember, but it does help Spurs keep pace in their quest to qualify for the Europa League.
Unfortunately, Europa League is the most they’ll get. Leicester City’s win over Sheffield United ensured that Spurs have no chance to finish any higher than fifth place. But hey, if they win out they’ll not only come no lower than seventh, but they’ll also finish ahead of Arsenal, and that’s the REAL important thing.
Wednesday was also the debut of America’s newest streaming service, NBCUniversal’s Peacock. As part of their debut, all of that day’s Premier League matches were not shown on TV and instead were streamed (for free) on Peacock and, reluctantly, on NBC Sports Gold. And as you can imagine, it wasn’t the cleanest of rollouts. Check social media if you want to know what some users faced on that day.
Naturally, we have some TAKES, and this seems like a good time to make them. So here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their 3-1 win over Newcastle to the theme of sports streaming services available in the USA. Full credit to the commentariat member who suggested this theme — thank you.
5 stars: ESPN+
If you dare call yourself the Worldwide Leader of Sports, you better damn well make sure you’ve got the best streaming platform out there. ESPN does. We’ve been watching ESPN3 and WatchESPN for years now, and now with ESPN+ you can get a wide variety of sports and leagues, including the Championship and England’s domestic cups, for $5/mo. It’s a steal and all soccer fans should have this. I’ve rarely had a problem streaming on ESPN, and their coverage is very good. It’s the gold standard.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as good as ESPN+’s streaming services.
4.5 stars: Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime doesn’t stream football in America... yet. But they do other sports, and they do it very, very well. It’s probably only a matter of time before Bezos buys the rights to stream a major domestic league on the Smile, and based on how they’ve handled Thursday night NFL games, it’ll be good.
No Spurs players were this good, either.
4 stars: NBC Sports Live (not Gold)
The thing I’ve always appreciated about NBC’s coverage of the Premier League is that they handle it with so much respect. They don’t try and phone it in, they don’t shoot on shoddy sets with third-rate pundits. Rebecca Lowe, the Robbies, and the rest of the team are knowledgable, professional, and obviously love what they do. The service itself gets docked a star for periodic freezes/refreshes on the NBC Sports Live streaming program, and for requiring a cable subscription in order to stream. That’s lame.
Harry Kane (Community — 4.0): It’s hard to argue too much with two goals. They were both poacher’s efforts and well taken. As fans we shouldn’t care. As analysts, I’m still concerned about Kane’s movement in and around the box. But you have to say, he’s been good the past few games.
Steven Bergwijn (Community — 4.0): Big Steve did exactly what you want a substitute to do when he comes on: he made an immediate impact. His long cross and assist to Kane was lovely and he looked a threat running against tired Newcastle legs. More of that, please.
Lucas Moura (Community — 4.0): I’ve been critical of Lucas this season, but he’s been very good the past two matches, stretching defenses with his dribbling and also really getting stuck in as a defensive winger.
3.5 stars: CBS All-Access
My analysis of CBS All-Access streaming is based on watching college basketball games and not football, but the sports I’ve seen on CBS have been handled pretty well. We’ll get a better chance to evaluate CBS later on as they take over from Turner for the rest of the Champions League this season, and all European competitions next year.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.0): It wasn’t a perfect match, but Sonny took his goal well, and although he was quieter than he was in the NLD he certainly looked better on the left than he has since the restart.
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 4.0): Had to work to contain the runs of Saint-Maximin and Almiron, especially in the early goings. Couldn’t do anything about Ritchie’s goal, or Gayle’s shot that plonked off the post. Not a perfect performance, but solid enough.
Gio Lo Celso (Community — 3.5): Still carried over the edgy play from the Derby, and did well to find Son with a diving kick for Spurs’ opener. Looked gassed by the time he came off.
3 stars: FOX Sports
There’s nothing necessarily WRONG with FOX’s streaming operations. There’s just nothing especially special about it, either. They do, at least, offer some a la carte options. While they’ve shifted their focus to MLS lately, when they showed the cups they offered a solid stream experience and both TV provider and package streaming options, which is nice. I can recall some stream hiccups in years past, though.
Erik Lamela (Community: 3.5): Fully deserved the goal that ended up going to Harry Kane at the end of the match for a lovely run and shot that was well-saved by Dubrovka, but I’m still frustrated by his decisionmaking at times.
Davinson Sanchez (Community: 3.5): I honestly can’t think of a single good, or bad, thing Davi did in this match. Seems like a 3-star performance to me.
Hugo Lloris (Community: 3.5): No huge saves, no huge mistakes. Nothing he could do about Ritchie’s goal.
Moussa Sissoko (Community: 3.5): Had some lung-busting runs with the ball that amounted to little, and ran around creating havoc. A Very Moussa Sissoko Match™.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 3.5): Mou still hasn’t figured out how to unpick a locked defense with this Tottenham side, and I’m not sure whether that’s his personnel or him. Spurs played some pretty drab football, ceding possession to a Newcastle team that, frankly, isn’t very good.
2.5 stars: NBC Gold / Peacock
First, the good: despite a lot of anecdotal evidence, the stream itself was nice looking and clear... when it worked. NBC should be given some grace as well since it was the rollout and mistakes are always made on the first day. However, there were some weird decisions — no rewind/fast forward options, no VPNs, and perhaps most baffling — no support for Roku or Amazon players. The stream tended to freeze on iOS if you got a notification, and the UI was absolutely tragic — difficult to navigate, and with the match not showing up until minutes before kickoff. I’m willing to give them another shot if they can work out some of the kinks, but it wasn’t the most auspicious of debuts. Bonus raspberries to NBC for the very existence of NBC Sports Gold, and for deciding next season to move Gold to Peacock... and charge more money for it. You suck.
Harry Winks (Community — 3.0): Olé! Once again did a matador impression, letting Newcastle dominate the midfield while he tried to pass his way out of danger. There’s a place for Winks in this team, I’m sure of it. I’m just not quite sure where it is yet.
Serge Aurier (Community — 3.0): Gets major emotional kudos for his decision to play this match days after the murder of his brother. But he had a lovely assist to Matt Ritchie for his goal in an otherwise meh-to-forgettable match.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.0): Saint-Maximin is a load, but whoof. Ben got roasted on a number of occasions. Did some decent things going forward to bump him up slightly.
2 stars: Bleacher/Report
Remember how excited we were when we found out Steve Nash was going to be doing analysis for Champions League matches on Turner? LOL. Steve was fine, but Bleacher/Report and Turner’s overall coverage was an absolute mess. Cheap sets, bad lighting, inane commentary, and they used the world feed. Plus they bailed as soon as COVID hit. The only really positive thing I can say about B/R is that they offered affordable single-match a la carte streaming costs, and more networks should do that. Otherwise, Steve Nash and Kate Abdo deserved better.
I didn’t think anyone was quite this bad, but it was kinda close.
1 star: beIn Sports
I’d like to be able to give you a good analysis of why beIN Sports’ streaming service is so terrible, but to be honest I’ve never been able to watch a match on beIN without a spinning circle of buffering death after a couple of minutes. Pardeep Cattry even said she’s had better luck with BeoutQ.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as beIN Sports’ streaming service.
Sopcast Memorial Non-Rating