SOCCER

Tottenham 4-1 Southampton: Player ratings on best board games for Dier and Doherty

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Well, it went well! Tottenham Hotspur started a little rusty in their Premier League opener against Southampton at home but quickly turned the tide en route to a 4-1 dismantling of Saints at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Incredibly, Tottenham scored four goals and took the win without either of their stars Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min scoring. Still, there were some truly outstanding performances in this game.

You may recall last week Charlie Eccleshire of The Athletic posted an interview with Spurs centre-back Eric Dier about his budding Spurs bromance with Matt Doherty. This dynamic was evident in video footage released by the club during Spurs’ visit to South Korea earlier in the summer. There’s a lot of interest in this interview, but what caught my attention was when Dier started talking about board games.

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Dier was known as one of the group members who fell in love with the settlers in Catania with the then Belgian Spurs contingent of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Nacer Chadli. More recently, the Spurs clubhouse has been the site of some absolutely top-notch Uno tournaments. But when asked about board games with Doherty, Dier answered the following:

“With Jan and my brothers, because there were four of us, we played a lot of board games in both houses,” explains Dier. “Catan is the biggest board game in the world.

“With Matt, I tried to bring him to backgammon. This is where I want to start with him.

“Board games…I feel like I was cheating on Jan if I played board games with someone else.”

Now listen, far be it from me to shit on backgammon, which is a perfectly fine game and these days terribly underplayed. But Dier gives the impression that he WANTS to try to convert Dohberto Carlos into a European player.

I can help with that! I’m a huge fan of board games, as I suspect many readers of this blog are. And I have some IDEAS for intro board and card games that aren’t Settlers of Catan (or backgammon) and that might just turn Doherty, Harry Kane and everyone else in the clubhouse into gamblers .

Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their 4-1 win over Southampton on the topic of best board games for Dier and Doherty.

[NOTE: normally when I do a ratings theme the top category is the best, and the 1-star category the worst. This time, these are all good games and would be worthy additions to your collection.]

5 stars: Scope


I thought long and hard about the game with simple rules, good strategy, and infinite replay value that I would recommend first to Dier and Doherty. It’s my choice. I know hardcore gamers have issues with certain aspects of Wingspan’s gameplay, but it’s an enjoyable engine building game, the artwork is GORGEOUS, and the theme – collecting birds for your personal aviary – is just delightful. Also, can’t you see Eric and Matt endlessly discussing the merits of playing wood duck on the Spragues Pipit? I would happily watch a live stream of Dier teaching the team how to play this game on SpursPLAY.

Dejan Kulusevski (Community — 5.0): Wow. We knew Deki was good, but it was just a good next level. On a day when their top two stars weren’t shooting, Deki stepped in in a big way. His tight control in and around the box was stellar, his assist to Sessegnon was sublime and he took his goal very well. Good luck getting past that guy, Richarlison.

Ryan Sessegnon (Community — 4.5): I’m so, so happy for Sess who played like something clicked in his head this summer. He looked noticeably bulkier there and kept Kyle Walker-Peters in his pocket all game and made constant dangerous runs in the box. This is the Sess we’ve been waiting for since he arrived.

Antonio Conte (Community — 4.5): Got the tactics spot on, which just means he set them up to play his usual way. Spurs had a bit of ‘first game week energy’ but that had little to do with the way he set them up and asked them to play. I would have liked to see the late subs come a little earlier instead of being a quad sub with five to go.

4.5 stars: Patchwork

It’s fun to have games where you can include all your friends, but sometimes when your best friend Matt is done you just want to play a good game tailor-made for two players, and too many games aren’t everything simply not made for less than three. Patchwork is a quilting game that lets you earn “buttons” that you can use to buy and place randomly shaped Tetris-like pieces of fabric on your game board to form a seamless patchwork quilt. Look, I realize I’m extending the acceptability for male professional footballers with the theme here, but it’s just a solid two-player game with tons of replayability and strategy, with simple rules and accessible. It has become my partner and my favorite in recent months.

Eric Dier (Community — 4.5): He rarely took the wrong foot in defense, and his goal was a deft flick past Bazunu. Just a wonderful performance on both sides of the ball and was impressed with his leadership.

Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 4.0): Really impressed with Lolo’s simple and understated performance in midfield. Tackled well, didn’t make any real mistakes, led midfield. Not always a glorious job, but he did it very, very well.

4 stars: No thanks


Games don’t have to be complicated. In fact, when it comes to professional footballers who also play in their off hours, complicated tactical simulations like Scythe or Gloomhaven are probably not going to go over well. Sometimes when you’re exhausted after long training, all you want is a simple-to-learn, easy-to-play card game like Uno. That’s why I like No thanks. It’s a simple take or pass card game with simple rules (points are bad, you have to take a card unless you “pass” using a limited number of chips in your hand), it’s extremely competitive, you can play with up to seven players, and you can teach it in five minutes. It’s also small enough to fit in your toiletry bag so you can play it on the team bus. I highly recommend it.

Emerson Royal (Community — 4.0): Really, really solid in possession and defense. We also had some really fun moments on the attacking side of the ball with two goal contributions, marred very slightly by a couple of incidents of a brain drop, including in the build-up to Soton’s goal. I laughed out loud at the bike attempt, it was one for the competition.

Cuti Romero (Community — 4.0): Well played at the back, rarely letting anything get past him. I’m subtracting half a star for that horrible (yet weirdly hilarious) late tackle on Romeu that somehow didn’t even earn him a card… What a maniac. What a king. (I would have been furious if he had been suspended for the Chelsea game)

Ben Davies (Community — 4.0): A cracker of a long shot on goal, and was pretty solid overall, although he left his man behind once or twice. I expect even better performances to come with Lenglet to push him harder.

3.5: Formula D


Dier mentioned that Doherty is constantly at home watching sports. It seems natural to me that professional sports people enjoy board games about professional sports, so why not Formula D? This is a racing simulation board game that can basically work like a Formula 1 simulator, with gear changes and dice representing movement. The base game comes with the Monaco Grand Prix map (there’s a street race on the reverse), there are TONS of expansion tracks both officially released and fan made on the internet. The rules also evolve from basic simulations to super complicated simulations so that you can make the game (a little) more realistic as you improve. It’s a bulky setup and it’s not one you can easily take on the plane for travel, but set it up on the chart table at home (or in the clubhouse) and you can easily lose a few hours – or more – running races and even campaigns of the whole season.

Son Heung-Min (Community — 3.5): Honestly, I was pretty meh about Sonny’s performance, but maybe that’s because we know how good he CAN be. He had some horrible moments in the first half and could have easily been sent off to Kane in the buildup of a big chance. Improved later and got the assist for Dier so clearly not that bad, but it wasn’t one of his best games.

Harry Kane (Community — 3.5): Would probably be rated lower if Spurs hadn’t won big today but they did and I’m in a generous mood. A weirdly offbeat performance where Kane put in a lot of work to play into the others but couldn’t get a shot. Could have scored a goal if Sonny had thought to find it on that one chance.

Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): Couldn’t do much for Ward-Prowse’s ugly bouncy goal but made a pretty nice save on Joe Aribo later.

3 stars: Pandemic


I wanted to include at least one cooperative game in this ranking because while beating teammates is fun, team sports are all about working together towards a common goal. Pandemic isn’t a one-size-fits-all choice, it’s been around for a while and you can buy it at Target, but it’s one of the best co-op games out there. The theme – you’re disease researchers trying to stop the spread of four deadly viruses from killing everyone on earth – is a little over the top, but the gameplay is fun, it makes you think, and it can be BRUTAL to win. And if Eric and Matt end up forming a Tottenham playgroup, I recommend the Pandemic: Legacy games, essentially a Pandemic campaign where you literally tear cards as you go, changing the game.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): At the risk of starting another Hojbjerg war, I thought General Ho could have done better on Soton’s opening goal and seemed hesitant in the transition, especially in the first half. He wasn’t bad by any means, but looked like one of the weaker players in what was a very good overall performance. Improved in the second 45, but would like to see what Bissouma could do with an extended session in this role.

Ivan Perisic (Community — 3.5): Didn’t have a huge impact on the game, but didn’t really have to as Spurs were already big by the time he arrived.

1 star: not teaching your new best friend to play board games because you think you’re “cheating” Jan Vertonghen


Yeah, that’s something Dier said in the interview. Don’t be like that, Eric. Pass on the love of board games to a new generation of (Irish?) Tottenham players. Create a playgroup. Teach old man Perisic to play in Carcassonne. Put dice in Sonny’s hands. It’s a lovely pastime, it promotes an active and healthy mind, and also keeps schlubs like me who watch from afar extremely entertained. Jan would understand. He would even bless her. That’s exactly the kind of person Jan is.

No Tottenham Hotspur player was as bad as not playing board games.

Tom Carroll Memorial Unrated


Lucas Moura, Matt Doherty, Yves Bissouma, Clement Lenglet

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