What a comeback! Tottenham Hotspur roared back from a 2-0 second half deficit (i.e. “the most dangerous lead in football”) to take a win away at Bournemouth by the final score of 3-2. The winner came from the boot of Rodrigo Bentancur in the 2nd minute of extra time, and gave Spurs fans a brief moment of something they haven’t experienced much this season: jubilation. It was fun. I’d like to do that again, minus the pathos of the opening half.
Today is Halloween. This October marked the eighth year I’ve been in charge at Cartilage Free Captain, a number that amazes even myself. In that time, I’ve worked hard to try to repeat player ratings themes as little as possible. That’s getting harder and harder, especially around major holidays.
So screw it, we haven’t done this theme since 2014 and it’s time for a refresh but with a twist. My kids are both teenagers and are getting a little jaded when it comes to the whole trick-or-treat thing but they’ll still go out in the right circumstances, i.e. “with their friends.” They have also banked enough trick-or-treats in their collective experiences that they have some solid takes on the candy they receive in their orange pumpkin buckets, and if you ask them about it they’ll be glad to tell you about it.
So here are the player ratings for Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-2 win at Bournemouth to the theme of Halloween candy, according to my teen kids. The rankings are theirs, the commentary is mine. Criticize my kids and I’ll fight you.
5 stars: Nerds
Controversy right from the start! I know this is not where I’d put this particular confection, but for my kids this is the holy grail of Halloween candy. I guess there’s something about those tiny nuggets of rock sugar coated in a flavored shell that hits the sweet spot for them. It was felt more acutely this Halloween when they returned to find not a single mini-box of Nerds in either of their stashes. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (more exhortations of “wtf why did nobody buy Nerds this year, is there a Nerds shortage?”).
Gianni Vio: 20 corners is... a lot of corners. And while Tottenham’s conversion rate was distressingly low, you could see some serious game theory going on in how Spurs took them, especially with Davies’ header which was a far post corner after several consecutive near post corners. Sign him to a lifetime contract.
4.5 stars: Reeses peanut butter cups
My daughter doesn’t like peanut butter and won’t go anywhere near a PB&J, but she hoards Reeses cups like she’s Smaug on a pile of gold coins. And rightfully so — these are top tier Halloween candy offerings. Even better if you can find the house that’s handing out full size cups and not the “fun size” ones that come in the bags of multi-candy offerings. Both kids agree that, while they’re not Nerds, this is outstanding candy.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 4.5): The very definition of an impact sub. Changed the game with his incisive passing and pressing in midfield and was in the right place to poke home the injury time winner.
4 stars: Rice Krispie Treats
This surprised me. One kid came home with two Rice Krispie Treats in their bag, the other kid had none, and since they trick-or-treated together this led first to accusations that one was secretly hoarding them, and then attempts at a massive, high-stakes candy trade. Maybe these are ranked so high because we so rarely make them at home. Maybe I should start making these at home.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 4.0): His delivery into the box left something to be desired but he was one of the few brighter spots in the first half and he took his goal very well. I thought it was a very assured performance after a shocker in his last outing.
3.5 stars: Twix
Really, all fun-sized candy bars can go in this category — they are the base currency of trick-or-treating according to my kids. Twix (especially Twix!), Snickers, Milky Way, Nestle’s Crunch, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate — you’ll eat them and enjoy them, but they’re plentiful enough that you can part with a few of them to grease the wheels for something in a higher candy tier. And if the trades don’t work out? Well, you’ve still got a yummy candy bar. But Twix was universally agreed upon to be a half-step above the other candy bar offerings. And if you can score a Peanut Butter Twix, well that shoots right up to the 4.5 category — these are unfortunately rare, like finding an Ivory Billed Woodpecker.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Incredible through-ball to Sessegnon for Spurs’ first goal. Another workmanlike job in midfield.
Ivan Perisic (Community — 3.5): Justified his substitution with some good set piece delivery including the corner kick to Davies’ head.
Eric Dier (Community — 3.5): Stabilized the back line upon his substitution. Weirdly, he did it as a right-sided CB instead of swapping with Lenglet.
Antonio Conte (Community — 3.5): Credit to Conte for seeing that things weren’t working and making appropriate adjustments to turn the match around. I’ll even credit him for actually rotating ahead of a huge Champions League match at Marseille. But that first half... boy was that bad.
3 stars: Rainbow fentanyl
When asked, both of my teens agreed that while receiving a handful of candy-colored prescription-strength painkillers in your Halloween bucket is perfectly fine, they don’t taste especially good and are really only useful as trade fodder to adults for weed. (Note: my kids didn’t actually say this, drugs are bad mmkay)
Harry Kane (Community — 3.0): Didn’t score but did look dangerous at spots despite the lack of service for the majority of the match.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.0): Let two goals past but also made some smart saves, especially in the first half. Heart-in-mouth moment when he came off his line to smother one Bournemouth attack.
Oliver Skipp (Community — 3.0): Not as impressive as his last outing, but was safe with the ball and had a smart, saved shot in the first half. Perhaps unfairly hooked at halftime, but I understood the tactics behind the decision.
Clement Lenglet (Community — 2.5): Not an impressive display in the center of the back line (he got manhandled by Solanke) but looked much better once Dier came in.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 3.0): Tested Bournemouth’s keeper on a couple of times, forcing one pretty impressive stop. Also took the corner that led to Bentancur’s winning goal. Not a perfect performance by any means and he looks exhausted.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.5): Looked somewhat at sea in the first half and got turned around, but made up for it with his glancing headed goal that leveled the score.
2.5 stars: Candy Corn
My kids didn’t actually say anything about candy corn, but I’ve watched them do years of candy trades and you can glean a lot about their likes by what they trade and what they pass over. I have only ever seen candy corn exchange hands when it was included as bulk filler to try and exhort a kid to part with their top tier candy with a high-volume trade offer. That should tell you something.
Lucas Moura (Community — 3.0): I’m not sure what he did yesterday. Some praised his halftime substitution, but I saw a lot of the head-down-and-run-into-cul-de-sacs Lucas that we’ve lambasted over the past couple of years.
Yves Bissouma (Community — 2.5): I still can’t figure out why Yves is struggling so much. I expected him to immediately challenge for a starting place in midfield, but he really struggled again and looks like he still has no idea what to do. I fear he’s a square peg in Conte’s hexagonal hole.
2 stars: Tootsie Rolls
You get about a million of them every Halloween, they taste like that fake carob chocolate your hippie aunt tried you get you to eat when you were kids, and they look like cat turds. My kids are convinced Halloween is a federal subsidy designed to keep the makers of Tootsie Rolls from going bankrupt.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 2.0): Whoof. That’s all I’ve got.
Emerson Royal (Community — 2.0): I will continue to assert that defensively Emerson is better than he’s given credit for but the dude is an absolute liability going forward. Remember that shot of his that actually went into the parking lot? Pretty accurate summary of his day.
1 star: Pencils
My son got a pencil in his candy stash this year. He’s 14 now so he’s mostly just bemused that adults actually try and do this instead of actively offended, but trying to turn Halloween, one of the few holidays where obtaining and eating copious amounts of candy is not only acceptable but encouraged, into an educational exercise is peak Boomer. (Before you ask, no I have never done this, how dare you.)
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as handing out non-candy items to trick-or-treaters.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Bryan Gil (83’)