Sports are usually very good. I like them a lot, which is why I work for this website. But occasionally, it is obvious before a game even starts that it is going to be very bad. Casual sports fans (smart people) take these opportunities to do something other than watch sports. But there’s a certain subset of sick individuals who can’t look away. They are, for whatever reason, pot committed to watching the bad sports.
Sunday’s Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton was one such occasion. Everyone who follows the Premier League closely had enough information to discern that the game would be very bad. Both teams are performing well below their talent level and both managers appear to be a couple of bad results from getting fired. I posted a morbid joke about not actually wanting to watch Tottenham, my favorite Premier League team, and was greeted with several people replying, “try being an Everton supporter.”
Tottenham have failed to re-sign or sell formerly world class player Christian Eriksen, who now walks around the pitch like he’s just there so he doesn’t get fined. Mauricio Pochettino inexplicably plays him anyway. Moussa Sissoko has tricked the team into handing him a new four-year contract and is now undroppable because he is one of the only players on the team who tries hard. Harry Kane has tried to come back too soon from ankle injuries on several occasions and now has a permanently-crocked ankle. The team operates with the same degree of urgency that I had while working my minimum wage job at Taco Bell with a massive hangover.
It’s less obvious why Everton stinks. Marco Silva’s team just ... doesn’t really do anything going forward. Here’s a radar of their key attacking stats from StatsBomb. It indicates that the Toffees are not particularly good at anything, and are especially bad at creating the easiest kinds of shots.
This game was obviously going to suck, and yet it sucked beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, in ways no one could have anticipated. Dele Alli and Cenk Tosun provided moments of quality with nice goals in the 1-1 draw, but they were the only remotely entertaining things to happen in the match. Tottenham finished with just four shots, while Everton had seven, and only one of the shots besides the goal was a real chance. No player looked desperate to save their manager’s job.
Andre Gomes suffered one of the worst injuries in Premier League history, battling with David Busst and Eduardo da Silva (please don’t look up any of the three, for the love of God) among the most disgusting. It was so horrifying that Son Heung-Min was sobbing at the sight of what he’d caused as he was being sent off. It took the medical team about five minutes to get Silva ready to be put on an ambulance.
This accounted for much, but not all of the game’s 12 minutes of stoppage time. The rest came from VAR reviews that took so long, Everton fans booed even when the officials were checking whether calls could be changed in their favor. VAR is so invasive in the game, an utter pest, that Everton supporters had no interest in the prospect of being granted a match-saving penalty.
In the end, the team I like choked away a win, and has now gone 12 Premier League road games without a victory. Everton battled back for an equalizer, but their fans will be frustrated that the Toffees couldn’t beat a team in crisis that played terribly.
This match was one of the worst sporting events I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching, but do I even have a right to complain? I did this to myself. I knew before the game started that it would be terrible and decided to watch it anyway. I could have turned on a different sporting event, or watched a movie, or played a video game, or gone outside. But instead I tortured myself, on purpose.
Maybe I’ll learn someday. I’ve probably watched more than 5,000 hours of professional soccer in my life, so I should be able to predict with some reasonable degree of accuracy when a game will be atrocious. What if I simply avoided the worst 5 percent of games? Would I like soccer more? Would I be a happier person?
Anyway, Everton-Tottenham sucked very badly and I hope you did not watch it.