When I was growing up, my grandparents used to have a bowl of nuts in their house — the mixed kind that had the shells still on it that you had to crack with a metal nutcracker. I used to love to (try to) crack the nuts when I was a child, but the resulting nut on the inside was almost always terrible to eat. I never did understand why so many adults had that bowl of crack-to-eat nuts in their home. Was it decoration? Did people actually enjoy eating them But if you roast them, nuts are wonderful and delicious, and they can also be ground into nut butters that can border on the sublime.
So I thought this would make a pretty decent ratings theme, and after five years of writing these things it shocked me that I hadn’t actually done this yet.
(Yes, I know what you’re thinking when you first saw the headline, and no, Beavis — I will NOT tolerate #NoNutNovember jokes on this professional sports website.)
5 stars: Cashews
I love cashews. Cashews are the best nuts in the world: fatty, nutty, sweet. They have the best taste, the best texture, and they make a kick-ass nut butter. It’s hard to deny it. It’s too bad they’re socially and environmentally terrible. Apparently a lot of cashew harvesters use underage or drug addicted labor as part of their practices, using caustic acid to remove the nuts from their shells. The trees are also apparently super dangerous. We probably shoudn’t eat them but they’re just so tasty. They’re the worst best worst nut.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community: n/a): Gets five of the most starry stars for setting a Premier League record for the player who made his club debut the latest in a match — the 101st minute. At least we had that.
4 stars: Pistachios
Let’s get this out of the way first: pistachios are fucking delicious. The problem is the shells 100% suck. It takes so much effort to just get the nut meat out of those damned shells, half of them aren’t even cracked enough to force them open, and you ruin your fingernails trying to do the job. Paying more to buy shelled pistachios isn’t much better because they’re almost always starting to go stale and don’t have the crunch or the flavor of a fresh-cracked nut. Pistachios: A+ flavor, D- for being a pain in the ass.
Tanguy Ndombele (Community - 6.6): We don’t deserve him. He continues to show why he’s probably among the most talented players in this side, and he’s not even playing at 100% yet.
Dele (Community - 6.7): Scored a nice goal, taking advantage of the mistake by Iwobi (one of the masthead called it “Iwoeful”) and was industrious and hard working even in a match where nobody was generating much offense.
3.5 stars: Almonds
I eat a LOT of almonds. There’s a bag of Blue Diamond BOLD Wasabi Soy Sauce almonds on my desk almost all the time at work for me to munch on. But almonds are really only at their best when they’re gussied up with extra flavors like smoke, barbecue, or Thai chili. Roasted, salted almonds are almost always more disappointing than filling. Raw almonds are the worst. Almonds do get a bonus half-star for making a truly excellent nut butter.
Moussa Sissoko (Community - 5.6): Seems to partner well with Ndombele, which is kinda weird. I’m not sure it was the best choice to play a guy who doesn’t pass well against a team known for a high press, but he was better than expected and progressed the ball well.
Giovani Lo Celso (Community - n/a): Every time he steps on the pitch I’m impressed by the little things he does and want to see more of him. When will that happen? Will it ever?
3 stars: Pecans
Nobody eats, like, just a bag of pecans. That’d be crazy. You only ever encounter them in the context of a tin of mixed nuts, as part of praline, or in a pie. And in the last two applications, they’re amazing — never underestimate a nut that can basically carry a pie all by itself. However, that’s a pretty specific application for what is otherwise a mediocre nut. Three stars.
Toby Alderweireld (Community - 6.0): Defensively stout for much of the match against an anemic Everton offense, but fell asleep in extra time and didn’t pick up Tosun for the header.
Ben Davies (Community - 5.6): Served as captain in the absence of Hugo, Kane and Vertonghen. Wasn’t outstanding, but was serviceable with few mistakes and pretty good defense, which is more than you can say for Danny Rose these days.
Paulo Gazzaniga (Community - 6.8): Made one very nice stop, a couple of routine saves, and very little else.
Serge Aurier (Community - 5.4): You can’t really blame him for the Gomes injury, though he was right there and probably saw more than anyone else. Truthfully, Serge was pretty ok, getting up the flanks decently well and putting in a couple of crosses that nobody ever converted because the offense was terrible.
2.5 stars: Peanuts
Peanuts are fine. In fact, they’re extremely good. They’re just not a nut — they’re a legume with nut-like properties that happens to make the best “nut” butter in the world. Ask someone random what’s the first nut they think of, they’ll say “peanut.” And that’s a problem, because this is a nut list. Peanuts are the best not-nuts in the world, which actually ranks them above a bunch of other more trash nuts. But they’re still not nuts. This is important.
Davinson Sanchez (Community - 5.7): Had a couple of scary defensive moments, and probably should’ve been whistled for a penalty after he body-checked Richarlison in the box. Definitely the scariest defender we have at the moment.
Son Heung-Min (Community - 5.6): I’m going to get yelled at here and accused of being hard on Sonny. I don’t blame him for Gomes’ injury and think the red card was bullshit, but the fact is he still tried to commit a professional foul on a player in retaliation for getting hit in the face, and that’s just never going to be a good look. He also wasn’t very good in this match. I love him and hope he feels better soon.
2 stars: Walnuts
Why do people actually eat these? They look like brains, have a terrible texture, and taste like if you licked a tree. People regularly ruin baked goods like cookies, brownies, and muffins by adding walnuts, presumably because they misanthropic, garbage people who hate life. The only acceptable use of walnuts is walnut oil, which strangely adds a decent earthiness to soups and other foods as a finishing oil. It’s a miracle of science that they made an oil out of walnuts that doesn’t actually taste like walnuts.
Lucas Moura (Community - 4.3): People have been practically begging Pochettino to start Lucas, but let’s be honest — he’s the kind of player who plays to the level of his competition. He was almost completely anonymous in this match playing centrally in place of Harry Kane.
Mauricio Pochettino (Community - 4.1): I don’t get what Poch was doing here. I get that Kane’s out injured, but there was no attempt to do any sort of tactical tinkering to actually, y’know, get things moving. And to wait until the 109th minute to sub off Eriksen is inexcusable when he was obviously the worst player on the pitch. Not great, Mauricio.
1.01 stars: Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are the packing peanuts of the nut world. Their only reason to exist is to fill up space and weight in packages of mixed nuts that would otherwise be filled with tastier, more superior nuts. They are also high in selenium, and if you eat too many of them you can develop selenium poisoning, the symptoms of which include a metallic taste, garlic odor on the breath, hair loss, brittle nails, fatigue, nausea, rash, diarrhea, runny nose, cough and nerve pain. Is that bad?
Christian Eriksen (Community - 2.4): Nobody gets a 1-star rating — that’s the bit and we’re sticking to it. But holy Hannah, Eriksen just keeps getting worse and worse. Listless, lifeless, hopeless. I honestly wonder if we’d be better off just cutting him in January, since we clearly won’t even get a ham sandwich for him.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating