What a game! Tottenham Hotspur opened the Nuno Era™ with a surprising and thrilling 1-0 home win over Manchester City. Harry Kane was not named to the squad and was not “deemed to be fit” (lol) but we all know it was the continuing instability over his attempt to force a move to City this summer. He apparently watched the match from a private booth inside the new stadium.
Son Heung-Min got the winner for Tottenham in front of a packed White Hart Lane crowd. It was wonderful. Long may this continue.
You might have noticed over the past few weeks that I’ve been (cough) having some fun with the header photos whenever I write about Harry Kane. Yes, I know, it’s small and petty of me and I probably shouldn’t do it but gosh, it makes me feel better and it’s just so much FUN. So this week’s theme was easy. Here are the Tottenham Hotspur masthead (and community) ratings to Spurs’ 1-0 win over City to the theme of some of my favorite photos I’ve used of Harry Kane falling over.
Japhet Tanganga (Community — 5.0): Outstanding defensively. Played with a real edge which almost got him into real trouble, but was physical with Grealish and Sterling, keeping both of them very quiet down his flank. I know he’s a CB, but he also should probably just be our new RB. Let’s DEFINITELY not send him on loan to Turkey.
Lucas Moura (Community — 4.5): Has... has Nuno unlocked Lucas? He continued his impressive form that he showed in preseason. Had a chance cleared off the line, and was extremely dribbly, taking on players and being very direct with the ball. A goal would’ve been a nice way to cap off a very impressive performance by the Brazilian.
Ervinson Dierchez (Community — 4.0 Dier/Sanchez): We have basically crapped on Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier for much of the past two seasons but they were both quite good on the day against City. Davinson was pretty great positionally and had some outstanding tackles, none better than THAT one at the end of the match. Dier was strong in the air and marshalled the defensive forces quite well. Maybe all they needed was not to be managed by a football terrorist.
Steven Bergwijn (Community — 4.0): Steve’s confidence is coming back and it shows. Worked hard in the counter, blazed through the middle on the break, and got the assist to Sonny that won the match. That’s all good, but he also missed a sitter. Still, you can see why Nuno likes him.
Dele (Community — 4.0): Dele’s new, deeper role is interesting in that it seems to marginalize him from the things he has historically done well, i.e. DO FUN STUFF WITH THE BALL and score. But honestly, this central mid role is kind of a throwback to his MK Dons days, and allows Dele to really dig into a role as a bulldog in the midfield press. He started off quiet but really really improved in the second half of this match. We may have to reorient our expectations of what a good match from Dele looks like now, but it doesn’t mean that he can’t be a key cog in this Tottenham machine. I thought he was great.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.5): Sonny sure does love a goal against City, doesn’t he? However, he looked strangely hesitant on Spurs’ counters — a couple of promising breaks petered out as soon as he got the ball in the first half, especially. Sonny said he “made some mistakes” in the post-match interview, so we know he’s also aware he could be better. Let’s sign a good CF so we can play him on the wing as God intended.
Nuno Espirito Santo (Community — 5.0): If you want to take a critical look at it, this was Mourinho-style defensive football but with an actual tactical plan. Nuno played counterattacking ball, but structured his side so that his back line was protected, and his players all knew their roles and what they were supposed to do. It was probably the right approach, to be fair. Was it perfect? No. The midfield was still kind of vacant, it doesn’t seem like Spurs know what to do to progress the ball without dribbly wingers, and it’s weird that we just don’t seem to cross the ball anymore. But it was COHERENT. It was FUN. It produced JOY, Marie Kondo-style. And it WORKED. Still work to do, the bar for Nuno is currently so low it’s on the floor, but this was a good start.
Sergio Reguilon (Community — 4.0): Reggie had his moments going forward, but I was particularly impressed with his defensive tenacity, something he struggled with at times last season. A bit of a shaky start but recovered quickly.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 4.0): Had a weird moment when he rushed out on a corner, flapped at a cross, and nearly gave up an open net goal (thank u for shanking it Riyad), but also had a couple of good saves late.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 4.0): We’re gonna see some different stuff out of Pierre now that he’s probably tasked (less) with being the defensive midfield anchor. Struggled with progressing the ball centrally, but ran a TON and you can’t fault his effort. Had a chance to score, too.
Oliver Skipp (Community — 4.0): This is gonna be controversial, but hear me out. Far be it from me to crap all over people who enjoyed an academy graduate play his first Premier League match in a win against the Champions of England — enjoy it! It was great! — but I thought Skipp was mostly just... okay. He wasn’t bad, was clearly a net gain over Harry Winks, and the leap from Championship to Champions League is huge, but Skippy was also had a hard time reading the pace of the game and was consistently a half step slow positionally and going into challenges. If we’re grading on a curve, it was a good performance, full of tenacity. There’s a good player in there and I think he’s going to be exceptional for Spurs with time. But on Sunday he made me think “buddy, wyd” a lot. Play Skipp against the crap teams and in the Conference League, or as a rotation option. Let’s ease him in a bit. City is a crucible.
Gio Lo Celso (Community — 3.5): A second half sub for Bergwijn, I expected Gio to slot into the midfield three with Dele pushing up, but he played as a like-for-like. Showed a few glimpses of good play and won a bunch of balls, but otherwise was just a competent sub, which is all we really needed from him on Sunday.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Matt Doherty, Cuti Romero
Erik Lamela Memorial Shithouse Award
Japhet Tanganga. This boy knows how to get stuck the f—k in and rocked Sterling and Grealish with some serious body checks in the opening few minutes. Tanganga isn’t a small lad, he’s built like a tank (moar like TANKganga amirite) so when he goes in hard, it’s a big ol’ CRUNCH. To be honest, it nearly got him in trouble early on and Anthony Taylor had to call Hugo over to tell Japhet to stop. He did not stop. I am happy about that.