It’s been a good week. Tottenham Hotspur fans first endured a tense home match, the last of the season, against a Burnley side that beat them earlier in the season — this one ended differently, with Harry Kane firing home a first half penalty and Spurs hanging on for a narrow (and scary) 1-0 victory. Then, Newcastle did us all a huge favor, defeating Arsenal at St. James’ Park 2-0 behind a Ben White own goal, a result that put Spurs firmly in the driver’s seat to finish top four. Tottenham now only need a draw against Norwich City to clinch Champions League football next season.
But we’re here to talk about that first thing — the Burnley match. In truth, it’s a bit of a weird one to evaluate. Tottenham had the bulk of possession, but had to try and pick the lock of a (predictably) bunkered Burnley defense. In that sense, they were fortunate — a flicked-on cross grazed the forearm of Ashley Barnes in injury time of the first half, which led to Kane’s converted penalty, and while Spurs had multiple chances they found it difficult to score. Spurs didn’t play poorly in this match, but neither did they play especially well. But they got the win, and that’s something.
Today’s theme is just a fun one I’ve wanted to do for a while. I think the ratings are correct. You probably won’t. It doesn’t matter, we’re all friends here. Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of Premier League mascots.
5 stars: Sad Gunnersaurus (Arsenal)
Look, I know this is a Tottenham blog and this is the only time you’ll ever see something Arsenal at the top of a player ratings list, but Gunnersaurus is without hyperbole the best mascot in the Premier League. Especially when he’s sad. It’s why when he was sacked by Arsenal during COVID, there was such an outcry across the whole of football that the club hired him back in short order. It’s not the first time Gunnersaurus has been sad lately — it’s not difficult to find photo examples of that pudgy dinosaur in abject despair: sitting alone in an empty changing room, stomping dejectedly on a wide expanse of green pitch, lying despondent on the ground after a goal. He is an archetype of the existential ennui of Arsenal post-Wenger. He channels the misery of all football fans that have watched their clubs let glory slip through their... fingers? paws? claws? whatever. He is a corpulent, extinct metaphor for the agony of football. He is all of us.
Alas, no Tottenham Hotspur players were as good as Sad Gunnersaurus (boy that felt weird to type).
4.5 stars: Evil Chirpy (Tottenham)
Don’t give me that anodyne smiling avian imposter that’s currently posing with kids at Spurs Women matches and outside the stadium, or its female companion. I’m talking the REAL Chirpy, that hollow-eyed, yellow-beaked black monstrosity who stalked the sidelines of White Hart Lane starting back around 2010. That stygian nightmare with feathers who could stare directly into your soul, judge what it saw there, and leave you shaken from the experience. The one who quietly slinked away, never to return, after the mysterious and sudden disappearance of the Turfies one warm North London night. What happened? No one knows. Perhaps he returned to his native, demonic plane of existence. Regardless — always and forever MY mascot. Stare into those cold, dead eyes and despair.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 4.0): OK, I might be grading on a curve here a bit, but Sessegnon was really very good and it was so nice to see him starting to come into his own. Comported himself well defensively, and despite not being the fastest guy out there was able to get forward to put in some very nice crosses into the box. If we’re only going to keep one of our current left backs, I’m... leaning towards Sess?
4 stars: Moonchester (Manchester City)
Moonchester might look like unholy union between an elf and Dinoco Lightning McQueen, but he’s a solid mascot. With a nickname like “The Citizens,” it’s tricky to get a mascot correct, so making their child-fronting face a that of a friendly sky-blue alien is both appropriate and marketing genius. It certainly puts a congenial, smiling face on a decade’s worth of Abu Dhabi sportswashing, doesn’t it?
Hugo Lloris (Community — 4.0): Did fine. Had one good save on Cornet in the first half, capably handled most of the (numerous) crosses Burnley fired into his area. Did well playing out of the back. Fortunate that Ashley Barnes’ shot caromed off the post, as he was well beaten.
Eric Dier (Community — 4.0): Again impressed with Dier’s calm, stabilizing presence in the center of Spurs’ back line. Called into action a bit more but never really let Burnley get much going offensively, at least within the area.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.5): Solid enough display. Continues to put in good defensive shifts and comfortable with the ball, a couple of weird passes aside.
Antonio Conte (Community — 4.0): Conte is a manager who needs time to develop a plan for any given opponent and didn’t have that time before Burnley. He also is dealing with a number of injuries and absences that left his bench even shorter than usual. (Three keepers on the bench!) That said, the “standard” tactics worked well enough. Spurs had tons of the ball, defended well, and ground out a must-win match.
3.5 stars: Buzz Bee (Brentford) / Bertie Bee (Burnley)
At least for this season, there are currently two bee mascots in the Premier League — as many as there are lion mascots (see below). This is important, as bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and soon we may only remember what they are thanks to the reference provided by Buzz and Bertie. Of the two, I give the slight nod to Burnley’s Bertie who’s a bit of a hard man — he was sent off (and later jailed) for giving a ref his glasses during a match in 2013.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Again rather impressive in midfield, keeping the ball ticking forward in possession and putting tackles in as necessary.
Lucas Moura (Community — 3.5): Lucas wasn’t my choice for a Kulusevski replacement (Bergwijn was again RIGHT THERE) but his directness did stretch Burnley’s defense out of shape, especially early on. He was fine, but just doesn’t link up with Kane and Son the way Deki does, and it shows in the way Spurs play.
Emerson Royal (Community — 3.5): That compilation video wasn’t a banger like we’ve seen the past couple of weeks, but he was fine. Again came close to a goal; he needs one against Norwich for the turnaround to become official.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 3.5): Lolo’s been on what feels like something of a slump lately (there are unconfirmed rumors he’s playing through injury), but he stepped up on Sunday and was a solid presence in the center of midfield.
3 stars: Hercules (Aston Villa), Stamford (Chelsea)
Premier League clubs with lions in crests decide to have lions as mascots. We can complain about it not being original, but we can’t about it not being appropriate. Update: Stamford is still under sanctions and is currently residing in a 6’ cage in the Manchester Zoo until the sale finally goes through. Please send support and/or gazelles.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 3.5): He’s no Cuti. But he’s been... okay? Pretty decent defensively, though still somewhat scary with the ball at his feet. Had the flick that caromed off a Burnley player’s arm for the penalty.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 3.5): A tough match with which to catch Salah for the Golden Boot, but he had a couple of shots that were well saved by Nick Pope. Son has more trouble against teams that sit deep and defend, for obvious reasons. Not a bad performance, but a tricky opponent, tactically.
Harry Kane (Community — 3.5): Got the penalty, but missed a couple of sitters, including one in the first half that he buries 90% of the time. Had another one cleared off the line. Doesn’t matter. The three points are the important thing.
2 stars: Monty Magpie (Newcastle)
It’s curious that Newcastle have a magpie as their mascot, as it’s not like there’s been anything shiny at St. James’ Park to keep him there for a while. Now that the Saudis are in charge, there’s a rumor that poor Monty is set to be... let’s call it “retired”... in favor of a new mascot, Baki the Bone Saw.
No Tottenham players were this poor.
1 star: no mascot (Everton)
Once upon a time, Changy the Elephant galumphed across Merseyside, bringing delight to kids and free Thai beer to adults. We assume he was the victim of the rise of e-commerce (and possibly Anfield poachers). Everton then decided to replace him with... nothing. Which is perhaps not surprising because I really can’t see any mascot version of Prince Rupert’s Tower being executed especially well.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as being a Premier League club without a mascot.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Dejan Kulusevski, Joe Rodon