Tottenham Hotspur rolled to a 6-2 home victory over Leicester City on Saturday. It was an interesting match — Spurs allowed Leicester a lot of the ball and made them look dangerous for portions of the match. They even allowed two goals — a Davinson Sanchez penalty and a poorly-defended strike from James Maddison. But Spurs got headed set piece goals from Harry Kane and Eric Dier, a lovely transition strike from Rodrigo Bentancur... and a 13 minute second half hat trick from super-sub Son Heung-Min. What looked like an edgy match against the bottom team in the league turned into a rout.
Last week in the days after Queen Elizabeth II passed away, Antonio Conte said in a press conference that he had visited Buckingham Palace “in disguise” to pay his respects to the Queen and to “experience the moment.” I found this fascinating, not because he wanted to join the throng outside Buckingham Palace, but because he felt the need to go incognito. For sure, football managers are celebrities so I can understand the impulse. It was said that he wore a hat to disguise himself. I think he could’ve put in more effort.
Here are the player ratings to Tottenham’s 6-2 win over Leicester City to the theme of ways Antonio Conte could’ve disguised himself at the palace to stay unwitnessed.
5 stars: Any member of the Beatles
It’s a perfect disguise. He doesn’t even have to wear a wig!
Son Heung-Min (Community — 5.0): I mean, what can you say? Sonny responded to being benched while fully fit for the first time since 2020 by scoring a hat trick inside 13 minutes, including two long-range worldies. Welcome back, my guy. I never doubted you.
Gianni Vio: Remember how when we hired him people talked about a set piece coach being the equivalent of a 20 goal striker? That may have been an underestimation. Spurs’ first two goals came from corners, and Sanchez had two glorious chances off of set pieces, — a waved-off goal and a Ward save off the crossbar. Spurs have looked decidedly dangerous from dead-ball situations for the first time since... ever.
Antonio Conte (Community — 4.5): This match essentially addressed all of the problems we’ve had with Conte over the past few weeks — four subs (all of them early)! Rotation! The 3-5-2! Bissouma! It’s hard to fault him for anything in this match.
4.5 stars: Giant corgi costume
Come on, you know you want to see this.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 4.0): It’s funny, in the writer’s chat several of us noted in the first half that Lolo’s passing was a little loose and he wasn’t playing especially great. He started after the interval by nicking a Leicester pass and scoring, nearly had a second goal later, and was an absolute beast throughout the 2nd half. Playing in the 3-5-2 certainly helped after the late sub, but he deserves this overall rating. If not for Son, he’d be my MOTM.
4 stars: Queen Elizabeth II cosplay
I don’t have evidence to prove it, but I can’t imagine that there weren’t plenty of queen cosplayers milling around outside the palace in the days after her death. Makes it easy to blend into the crowd when there are that many people wearing bright colors, large hats, and pearls.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 4.5): Hugo made some outstanding saves in this match, and his distribution was better than his baseline. Also saved a penalty, even though it didn’t count due to an encroachment call that is almost never actually made. Distribution out of the back still an issue, but that’s a baseline complaint. He was great.
Harry Kane (Community — 4.0): Perfectly timed run to head home Spurs’ opener and combined with Son for his second. Did very well to play in teammates going forward. Greaves in danger this season.
Dejan Kulusevski (Community — 4.0): His ball into the box for Kane’s header was pinpoint, and Spurs looked much more dangerous with him in the side. Really gave Leicester something to think about with his dribbling around the Leicester box.
Eric Dier (Community — 4.0): Did very well to get in the right position to head home his goal. Rarely put a foot wrong, though perhaps was a touch slow to close down Maddison for his goal.
3.5 stars: Thomas Tuchel
Slap on a blue ball-cap, borrow some stilts, lose about 25 pounds, stare at everyone directly in the eyes. It’s genius. Nobody would suspect a thing.
Cristian Romero (Community — 3.5): Helped solidify the defense late in the second half. Gets an extra half star for that amazing run to the back post. Sure he missed it and sure it was offside anyway, but wasn’t that AWESOME? God I love him.
Emerson Royal (Community — 3.0): We’ve given Emerson a lot of crap, but he did quite well as a Perisic sub in a 3-5-2 that better played to his strengths.
Yves Bissouma (Community — 3.5): That’s more like it. Bissouma struggled in a two-man midfield but looked much more at home in the three. Put in a number of good tackles and shielded the back line well, allowing Bentancur and Hojbjerg more freedom and time on the ball.
3 stars: Bruno Conti
Bruno Conti, the head of Roma’s football academy, has the weird distinction of looking more like Antonio Conte than Conte himself. It’s absolutely wild and the perfect disguise. “No no, I see where you made the mistake, but it’s CONTI, not Conte.”
Ivan Perisic (Community — 3.5): Had some good deliveries on corners and some strong moments going forward, but looked defensively frail and at sea on the right. Got dribbled past twice early and was a big part of the play that resulted in Davinson’s penalty. Conte swapped him with Sessegnon and it improved things, but I suspect that puts paid to the idea that he and Sess can play at the same time.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Overall a quiet match from General Ho. Didn’t pass especially well and looked under a lot of pressure, especially in the first half. Improved in the 2nd, got the assist for Sonny’s third, and looked far more comfortable in the three after Bissouma came on.
Richarlison (Community — 3.5): Weirdly absent in a way that I’m not used to seeing from him. Probably his worst performance in a Spurs shirt, and considering I still thought he was fine, that’s a pretty strong affirmation of his overall play this season. Subbed off for Sonny, and... well, that was the right decision, huh?
Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 3.5): I barely noticed him. Not sure whether that’s good or bad, so I’ll stick him here.
2.5 stars: Anton Chigurh
To disguise himself fully as the murderer from “No Country for Old Men” Conte would need to straighten his hair and carry around a cattle gun which probably wouldn’t have been very amusing to the Buckingham Palace security. But for Antonio: free Halloween costume idea.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 2.5): This was a bad match even by Davi’s standards. Two screw-ups in the play leading to the penalty, repeatedly allowed Daka too much space going forward, and downright awful in possession. Hooked midway through the second half. Not a good match. But — credit given for the headed (and weakly disallowed) goal and for another set piece header tipped off the crossbar.
Clement Lenglet (Community — 3.0): A pretty disappointing match from Clement who has (had?) a real opportunity to stake a claim on the LCB position with Davies’ injury. But looked lost at times in the back line, especially for Maddison’s goal. His long-range passing didn’t make up for his deficiencies in defense.
Erik Lamela Memorial Shithouse Award
Cuti Romero: I didn’t actually witness any shithousery from Cuti in this match, but I’m sure he did SOMETHING.