Tottenham Hotspur shattered Crystal Palace FC into a million pieces on Sunday, with Gareth Bale and Harry Kane both scoring a brace en route to a 4-1 win. It was super fun. We’re going to talk about them here.
As an American fan of the Premier League, I’m a little embarrassed how long it took me to realize that the Crystal Palace is an actual building that exists and not just one of those charmingly named areas of London like Elephant & Castle, Barking, or Shepherd’s Bush. Not only that, but the original Crystal Palace in London was such an architectural marvel that it became the model for a number of other buildings over the next 100 years plus.
I can’t believe I’ve been doing these articles for six years and never thought of this theme until now, but since we have multiple “crystal palaces” to choose from, why not use them as a player ratings theme? It certainly is topical, as those who live in Crystal Palaces should not throw stones. Or kick balls. Or something.
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of crystal palaces.
5 stars: London Crystal Palace (1851)
As viewed in the header photo, he OG CP was an architectural marvel at the time. A building built from wrought iron and glass, it was built to house the Great Exhibition in London and let so much natural light in that it didn’t require electric illumination. It became home for hundreds of exhibitions, from taxidermy to botany to industrial machinery, and Londoners flocked to it like the marvel it was. Originally erected in Hyde Park, it was relocated to south London, and the area around it eventually got named... you guessed it. A fire destroyed the original building in 1936. I might not like the football club that much, but the building itself was pretty awesome.
Harry Kane (Community — 5.0): When Harry hammered that goal into the top corner I let out a high pitched keening sound that I don’t think has ever escaped my lips before. He’d get five stars just for that goal, but he did so much more.
Gareth Bale (Community — 4.5): Old man’s got game. This is the Bale we hoped we’d see when we signed him. At this point, there’s no reason not to keep him around another year.
Click to Write Choice 16 (Community — 4.0): Boy, did this guy come out of nowhere or what? Haven’t seen a debut this exciting since Danny Rose! (This was an extra choice that was mistakenly left on the ratings form. Haha #joke)
4.5 stars: New York Crystal Palace (1853)
A big part of the ingenuity of 19th century American progress was finding stuff that other countries did and then trying to do it better. Like the London palace, New York’s Crystal Palace was created as an exhibition hall, was erected near a park, and was incredibly popular with the locals, at least at first. Also like the original, it was destroyed by fire, but just three years after it was constructed. It had declined in popularity after the exhibition it was built for, which just goes to tell you how capricious Americans are to feats of technological innovation. The images of it look dope, though.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.0): Hasn’t scored in a hot minute, but he seems content to be the provider for Bale and Kane so long as the team keeps winning. If he gets on one of his patented purple patches, watch out.
4 stars: Palacio de Cristal del Retiro (Spain)
Spain’s version of the Crystal Palace (literally translated as “glass palace”) was erected in Madrid in 1887. It was built in the shape of a Greek cross and while it might be smaller than those of London or New York, it has the benefit of still standing today, unlike the others. It was used as a greenhouse for a while but now is part of the Reina Sofia Museum and hosts rotating art exhibits.
Sergio Reguilon (Community — 4.0): It’s incredible how important Sergio’s directness, width and pace are to Tottenham’s attack. A little wasteful with his final ball but had some nice runs forward and a few good crosses into the box.
Jose Mourinho (Community — 4.0): Scoring early helps, but credit to Mou for not taking his foot off the gas with a narrow lead against a side that can murder football. It sure seems like maybe he’s figured out that, for this year’s team at least, the best defense is a really good offense.
3.5 stars: Crystal Palace Montreal Exhibition (1860)
What, did you think England and New York were going to make a Crystal Palace Exhibition Hall and Canada wouldn’t follow suit? Montreal’s version was a little bit smaller, but still directly influenced by the London original, but due to the harsher Canadian winters, this palace had a lot more brick to keep the glass from shattering in the cold. And because crystal palaces are apparently also death traps, it too burned down in 1896. I didn’t think glass was that flammable?
Lucas Moura (Community — 4.0): Lucas giveth and Lucas taketh away. Was quite direct and very involved with the first goal, but then gave the ball away twice leading to Palace’s equalizer at the end of the first half and was often dribbling into cul-de-sacs as he does. The good outweighs the bad in this instance.
Davinson Sanchez (Community — 3.5): Overall, I thought his defending was mostly great. However, you can’t ignore how lost he was for Palace’s only goal at the end of the half. Dinged a half-star for that lapse, but otherwise fairly solid again.
Toby Alderweireld (Community — 3.5): Like Davi, was caught in no-man’s land for Benteke’s goal. Also like Davi, was pretty solid otherwise and didn’t let Palace’s attackers get much of a toehold on the match.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 4.0): There was a point where I actually thought Winksy was outplaying Pierre in midfield. It’s not that he’s playing poorly — he isn’t. But he just looks like his legs are about to fall off. If he plays vs. Zagreb I riot.
Hugo Lloris (Community — 3.5): Couldn’t stop Benteke’s header, had another fairly routine save, and other than that was mostly cleaning his fingernails.
Erik Lamela (Community — 3.5): Played the hockey assist to Son for Kane’s second and looked lively in limited minutes.
3 stars: This photo of Billy Crystal and Jack Palance from “City Slickers II”
Get it? Huh? Yeah?
Harry Winks (Community — 3.0): When Winks isn’t tasked with, y’know, actually having to defend and can just recycle the ball to his little heart’s content, he’s fine. That’s pretty much what happened on Sunday. Sure beats being actively damaging to your team’s prospects!
Moussa Sissoko (Community — 3.0): He was fine.
2.5 stars: Crystal Cathedral, California
Technically this building is no longer the Crystal Cathedral and is now the Christ Cathedral and there’s probably a theology joke to be made in there somewhere. Finished in 1981 it was called “the largest glass building in the world” and who am I to argue with that? A single church, it seats 2248 people, and as someone who attends a congregation that averages 35 people maximum each Sunday, that’s way too many people for one church service. Apparently the glass panels are affixed to the building in a way that will allow it to withstand a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, which y’know seems like a good idea when you build a glass house on a fault line.
Matt Doherty (Community — 3.0): Better from Matt, but still not great. Got turned several times in defense, but was actually useful for moments going forward. Had the Tom Carroll Assist™ to Kane for THAT goal, and that’s at least three ironic non-existent stars, so really he’s at 5.5 and was our best player.
2 stars: Crystal Palace, Ljubljana, Slovenia
At a whopping 20 stories and 89m tall, this bog-standard “skyscraper” in Ljubljana is somehow the tallest building in Slovenia. I’m sure it’s of great pride to the Slovenian people, but as crystal palaces go it’s got a little bit to be desired, you know?
No Tottenham players in this category.
1 star: Buck Owens Crystal Palace, Bakersfield
The late country star Buck Owens wanted to make a spectacular looking concert hall in Bakersfield for country & western music, and his project, which opened in 1996, became a sprawling, honky-tonk themed tribute to Buck himself. Inside it’s all wood and neon and country kitsch. That’s fine. The hall is perfectly good for what it actually is, but there’s one big problem: Buck named it “Buck Owens Crystal Palace” and by that criteria it’s bad. Just look at this thing — there ain’t no crystal here. False advertising.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as the Buck Owens Crystal Palace.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating