Tottenham Hotspur shot the ball and scored goals and won a match! Hooray! Their 3-1 win over Leicester City kept them apace with Arsenal in the race for top four and sets up an absolutely MASSIVE away trip to Anfield to face Liverpool this weekend. I’m already nervous.
Friends, I’m struggling to come up with new themes this season. It’s a constant issue, but after nearly seven years doing these dang things sometimes twice a week it feels like it just gets more and more difficult. This one I came up with over the weekend while staring at a wall of shelf-stable dairy-free “milks” at my local co-op and, well, nothing better came to mind.
I love real milk, always have. I owe the existence of cheese, my favorite food substance on earth, to milk. However, I married a woman who is lactose-intolerant, and that trait was passed on to both of my children. As a result, I have necessarily become intimately familiar with the world of dairy-free alternative milks. And as I careen through my fifth decade of life, I’m finding that my own body is less and less tolerant of lactose myself. Whether that’s a sympathetic reaction based on living with milk-free loved ones for years or my own body betraying me is kind of an open question. (It’s probably both!)
In truth, I’ve never found one of these alt-milks, nut-based or otherwise, to come close to fully emulating the cow juice, but there are some that are very good, others that are serviceable, and others that are... well, let’s just say that they can just stay on the shelf for others to enjoy. Like some Tottenham Hotspur players! (What a segue!)
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their 3-1 win over Leicester City to the theme of dairy-free milk alternatives.
5 stars: Coconut
Coconut milk is wonderful. It’s creamy, it’s plentiful, it’s renewable, and it tastes like coconut, which is a good thing. It also separates out into a whey and a cream which makes it extremely versatile in cooking and baking. The only potential knock on it is that in its pure form it’s a little too rich to serve as a direct milk replacement in things like breakfast cereal, but it can be modified and diluted to make it more shelf stable. Coconut milk is the king of non-dairy milks.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 5.0): That’s more like it. Sonny broke out of his slump in a big way on Sunday, scoring a brace that was capped off by an absolute worldy — a contender for Spurs Goal of the Season. He’s now three back of Salah for the Golden Boot and is will almost certainly end the season as Tottenham’s leading scorer, the first time a non-Harry Kane player has done that in seven years.
Cuti Romero (Community — 4.5): Incredible defending from Cuti on Sunday. Crunching tackles all over the pitch, including the one that set up Sonny’s first goal, coupled with his trademark mazy runs into the midfield (and beyond). Is he the best central defender in the league? I think there’s a strong argument for it.
4.5 stars: Hemp
Hemp milk is a very good option as a dairy alternative. It’s creamy and naturally loaded with protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids, which is good. It’s made from a sustainable, easy to grow crop that is gaining in popularity with farmers, which is also good. It can also be somewhat difficult to find in stores, though that’s become less of an issue over the past few years. Try hemp milk. I think you’ll be surprised.
Dejan Kulusevski (Community — 4.5): I think he took his benching personally. Rarely has a substitution made such a comprehensive change in the way a Tottenham team operates but you saw it the instant Deki came on for Lucas Moura. He tortured Leicester’s defense and ended up with two assists on the day.
4 stars: Soy
We don’t use this in our family as my partner has a soy allergy, but as a dairy alternative soy milk is pretty decent. Like hemp milk it’s neutral tasting and high in protein, making it an easy swap in both cooking and coffee applications, and it’s plentiful as it’s a staple crop in the United States and elsewhere. Try and find the non-GMO stuff if you can.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 4.0): Didn’t have to do much, but came up pretty big when asked, tipping a shot off the bar and making a good save on Iheanacho late. The goal he let in wasn’t his fault and he should be furious that his teammates denied him a clean sheet.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 4.0): Lolo had a sneaky good performance on Sunday, covering a lot of ground and shielding the back line very well. A little wayward with his passing at times, but he set the tone for the overall defensive effort.
3.5 stars: Oat
Oat milk has been around for a while, but it took Oatly to actually get it right. It has a pleasantly grassy flavor and a good texture, and is suitable for drinking and baking, though I’ve found there are better options for cooking and especially in hot appilcations. Ironically, while you CAN make this at home, this is one of the milks that’s substantially better if you buy it off the shelf — homemade oat milk can end up unpalatably slimy due to the phytic acid in the oats.
Harry Kane (Community — 4.0): The fact that he ended up with a goal (a header! off a set piece! is that allowed?) is great and he got better over time, but his rating here is overshadowed by a pretty putrid performance in the opening half hour of this match. He’s not moving the same and hasn’t since he rolled his ankle a few weeks ago. Someone should ask Conte about that!
Eric Dier (Community — 3.5): Solid performance. I almost didn’t notice he was there, except when he’d pop up to head away a few crosses and corners.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Ran around a bunch as the more progressive of the central midfielders, but was let down by some poor touches now and again. Hard to fault his performance too much, though.
Antonio Conte (Community — 4.0): I’m still scratching my head over the Lucas start. Like, maybe this was all genius-level mind game stuff that hasn’t penetrated through my thick cranial wall, and hey Spurs played better and stuff, but... whoof. The opening half hour against a highly rotated Leicester didn’t really give me a ton of encouragement (though things got better).
3 stars: Rice
When my kids were little, this was what we gave them and what they grew up thinking was “milk.” I’m not going to pretend it’s my favorite (it’s not); it has a lighter, sweeter flavor and is significantly thinner than most nut milks, so it doesn’t add milk’s creaminess when used in cooking applications. On the flip side, it can be easily made at home with a high-powered blender which makes it pretty economical. It’s not the worst, it’s not the best. The kids still love it.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.5): Some uncharacteristically not-Bennish moments on Sunday especially early, but he recovered and put in an overall good effort.
Emerson Royal (Community — 3.0): I’m not as down on Royal’s performance as many are — he was solid enough defensively, though admittedly pretty poor going forward. But that’s just who he is, and I’ve reoriented my expectations of the position when he’s there. I thought he was... well, let’s say “Moussa Sissoko fine.”
2.5 stars: Almond/Cashew
If I were grading this on taste alone, these would be near the top of the list. But these are my rankings, and almonds and cashews are extremely thirsty nuts that are significantly less sustainable than other forms of dairy-free milks. For that reason, it gets docked. There are better alternatives out there. Use them.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 3.0): I probably should give Ryan the same rating that I gave Emerson as it’s not like Sess was actively damaging to Spurs. Maybe I’m not because I’m expecting more out of Sess that I no longer expect from Royal. It feels like he should be better going forward but is still lacking the confidence in his own abilities to actually succeed in that role.
2 stars: Peanut
I’ve tried this once at my local farmer’s market. It is purple and tastes, unsurprisingly, like peanuts. Which is okay if that’s what you’re looking for. I found it off-putting.
Lucas Moura (Community — 2.5): God, can we just sell this guy already? Incredibly wasteful and ineffective; bringing on Kulusevski early in the second half felt like a mercy.
Harry Winks (Community — 2.0): He had nine minutes of action and probably shouldn’t get a rating. I’m giving him one anyway because he was demonstrably poor, sitting off of Iheanacho and letting him waltz past for Leicester’s only goal. Fire him into the sun. Or to Burnley, whatever.
1 star: Non-dairy powdered “whitener”
You know what I’m talking about. Coffeemate, or the powdered stuff you put in coffee to make it look lighter but doesn’t add anything to make the coffee taste any better. Usually it’s made with corn syrup and palm byproducts mixed with a bunch of chemicals, making it irredeemably bad for the environment and probably your body. Don’t consume this stuff.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as non-dairy “whitener”.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating
Steven Bergwijn — He deserves better.