Like many American families, ours has a tradition that we’ve done ever since my kids were very little — each year we head out to the local tree farm a half hour from our house to ritually stalk and kill a Christmas tree for our living room. The kids and I have always enjoyed this trip — a chance to walk around acres of trees and select the “perfect” one, which we cut down ourselves and transport home. This isn’t an uncommon ritual by any means, but it’s meaningful.
It also means we’ve had many, many different kinds of Christmas trees in our house over the years. Does this make me an expert? Hell no, but it gives me enough context to make a player ratings theme on a Tottenham Hotspur blog. It’s Christmas season now, let’s go.
Here are your player ratings for Tottenham’s 3-0 win over Norwich City to the theme of Christmas trees. For those of you who of a different faith or who do not celebrate, you can put your tree alternates in the comments.
5 stars: Fraser fir
Hands down, my favorite tree variety. The needles are short and soft, so they don’t poke you when you move them, and they are less prone to falling off as the tree ages/dries. The shape is aesthetically pleasing, with numerous short branches making it ideal for hanging ornaments. The scent is also stronger than other varieties of tree, with an almost citrusy aroma. These trees are usually more expensive than other offerings, but they are striking indoors.
Oliver Skipp (Community — 4.5): I think it’s safe to say that this was Skippy’s best match in a Spurs shirt, and it comes one week after he had his previous best match in a Spurs shirt. Good on both sides of the ball with a number of tackles, including two sliding tackles that he was able to push forward to start counters. He is coming into his own.
Lucas Moura (Community — 4.5): Outstanding match from Lucas. He’s always been a head-down kind of player, but against Norwich he was interplaying well with those around him, making good passes and running into space. His goal was absolutely spectacular — a melding of teamwork and individual skill.
4.5 stars: Colorado blue spruce
Spruces are excellent trees — usually nicely shaped, easily grown, and easily found. They are of the “pokey tree” variety, which make them a pain in the butt to decorate without protective gloves, but are good if you have small pets that like to climb trees. But thing that sets the Colorado blue spruce apart is the bluish-white tint to the needles, which make them striking. Spruces smell lovely, too. Lovely tree.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.0): Another very good performance from Son, who was accurate with his crosses and really stretched Norwich’s defense. Tapped in an excellent team goal and looked really solid with the ball at his feet.
Ben Davies (Community — 4.0): Long live the Benaissance! Davies has thrived under Antonio Conte as a left sided centerback with license to push forward into attack when required. Had one assist against Norwich (two if you count the flicked on header that fell to Sanchez) and has been solid defensively.
4 stars: Charlie Brown Christmas tree
Maybe you live in an apartment or don’t have the space for a large tree. Maybe you just like the aesthetic of a small droopy tree like from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” That’s fine! Those itty bitty trees are super cute, and can give you that Christmas feeling in a pint-size package.
Harry Kane (Community — 3.0): Kane had four shots against Norwich and did a TON of good work dropping deep to hold up the ball and play in others, something that was more apparent upon re-watch. The only thing he didn’t do is score, and I have no doubt that will come.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 3.5): Sess isn’t as flashy or as fast as Sergio Reguilon, who was subbed off with a knock after 20 minutes, but he’s more comfortable on the ball and has quietly had an impressive two-match stretch. His positional awareness is quite solid, and he fizzed in a couple of excellent crosses from the flank against Norwich. You can see him growing in confidence. Unfortunately suspended vs. Rennes.
Antonio Conte (Community — 4.0): Unclear (again) whether he was playing rope-a-dope in the first half or if the players were just exhausted after Brentford, but it (again) seemed to work. If this is the strategy, I can’t really argue with it until it backfires and Spurs go into the half down three.
3.5 stars: White pine
The white pine has longer, softer needles, which are pretty and good if you have young children, but the flip side is that the branches tend to be thinner and droopier, making hanging heavy ornaments something of a pain. And when those big needles fall off they’re an incredible PITA to clean. Nice tree, but not our go-to come December.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.5): Dier is another player who has improved under Conte, and the simpler defensive game provided as a central CB has helped him. Had one back pass to Hugo that was a little scary, but otherwise solid.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 3.5): The goal was nice, as was the anti-celebration, and while Davi was improved he still had a couple really yikes moments, especially early. I’m happy for him, but he still makes me super nervous in possession.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Was tasked with playing a simpler more defensive game by shielding the back line and seemed content to let Skipp shine. Snapped into a couple of good tackles and didn’t make any big mistakes. Let’s hope he can get a rest soon, though.
3 stars: Scotch pine
If you were to ask someone to describe in detail a generic Christmas Tree, this is probably what they would describe. Medium length needles, somewhat pokey, robust, compact shape, and sturdy branches. They also grow quickly and are probably the cheapest tree you can buy. The pre-cut tree lots in big cities are generally chock-full of scotch pines. They’re a fine pine, just nothing to write home over.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): Didn’t have to do too much, but made a good stop on Pukki’s early chance. One bad kick from deep that was precipitated by Dier’s poor back pass, but otherwise pretty good.
Matt Doherty (Community — 3.0): He was inoffensive in 20 minutes of action, and that’s about the only take I have about his performance. He was fine, I guess?
2 stars: Artificial tree
Look, not everyone likes to go out into the cold to either cut their own tree and haul it back home, or buy a weeks-since-cut tree from a sketchy pre-cut lot, okay? For those people, there are myriads of artificial tree options that you can store in your basement. Long term, they are more economical and they don’t drop their needles, but they’re also less good for the environment and can come across as really chintzy if not done well. They also don’t have that pine tree smell. I won’t knock it too badly, but they are not my thing. Just get one that’s actually green, okay?
Japhet Tanganga (Community — 2.5): It’s a measure of Japhet’s performance at RWB against Norwich that when he was subbed off for Matt Doherty, I thought “hmm, yeah that makes sense.” Japhet isn’t a natural fullback, and he looked even more out of his depth as a Conte-style wing back. He looked as though he was very unclear as to what his role and responsibilities were out there, and there were a couple of moments I thought he might fly off the handle and get sent off. Not his best match.
1 star: Festivus poles
Just... don’t. The show wasn’t THAT funny and you’re not that clever.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as ironically decorating your home with a Festivus pole.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Sergio Reguilon, Steven Bergwijn