Tottenham Hotspur banked three more away points this past Friday, traveling across town to Selhurst Park and dispatching Crystal Palace by a final score of 1-2. Tottenham’s goals came from a Joel Ward own goal and Son Heung-Min’s eighth strike of the season. Crystal Palace made it interesting late after the match officials somewhat controversially declined to overturn a late Jordan Ayew that appeared to make contact with his hand before going into the net, but otherwise it was a pretty solid (if at times boring) win that kept Spurs at the top of the table for another week heading into next Monday’s showdown with Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea.
When I was a kid growing up in the midwestern United States, I fell in love with astronomy in part due to a PBS television show called “Star Hustler.” It was an extremely 1980s five minute astronomy segment hosted by Jack Horkheimer, a brilliantly-mustached man and Miami planetarium director with a unique vocal cadence and a Dad Jacket™ who walked out on a green-screen stage with a planetary backdrop to teach kids about stars and planets. I say this with fondness — Jack Horkheimer looked and sounded EXACTLY the way you’d expect a guy named “Jack Horkheimer” to look and sound like. Jack ended the show imploring his viewers to “keep looking up” but the best part was the opening intro, set to a synthesized Debussy “Arabesque No. 1” where the announcer read the following:
Some people hustle pool
Some people hustle cars
Then there’s that man you’ve heard about
The one who hustles stars
The show later changed its name to “Jack Horkheimer’s Star Gazers” for, uh, obvious reasons that apparently even my seven year old self realized far, FAR ahead of the show’s producers.
Anyway, “Jack Horkheimer’s Star Hustler/Gazers” was a formative part of my childhood and was part of what sparked what is now a life-long amateur fascination with astronomy. Which brings us to today’s theme — constellations. They are, literally, abstract pictures in the sky made by drawing lines between stars.
Who made them? Well, ancient peoples would have likely used constellations to tell each other stories, or to mark the passage of time. Some of these celestial pictograms date back to prehistory, which means that you can probably excuse our Neanderthal ancestors for drawing star pictures that kind of suck. But more modern constellations, including that of the zodiac, were codified with Ptolemy and ancient Greece. It’s somewhat striking that we’re still using them instead of making our own, modern ones.
So let’s get to it. We’re focusing on what is now considered the 88 “modern” constellations, but with acknowledgement that the constellations in ancient China and elsewhere were different, but no less valid. Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their win over Crystal Palace to the theme of constellations.
5 stars: Orion (The Hunter)
Look, I’m just going to say it — Orion fucks. It’s one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky — big and bold and easy to find by its “belt” of three bright stars and a “dagger” of dimmer stars just below it. All constellations take a bit of imagination to see, but Orion actually looks like a hunter, too which makes it, imo, the best constellation in the night sky. Orion also contains within it two nebulae visible with the naked eye (in dark skies), and there’s an annual meteor shower (the Orionids) that takes place in late October in and around the constellation. Orion’s where it’s at, y’all.
No Tottenham players were at this level of performance.
4.5 stars: Cygnus (The Swan)
One of the highlights of summer stargazing, Cygnus spreads like its namesake across the sky. This is a easily recognizable and beautiful group of stars and a joy to spot.
Guglielmo Vicario (Community — 4.5): Made a few impressive stops in the first half. Time-wasted excellently along with Cuti Romero. He’s been fantastic overall, making several key saves over the past few weeks when opponents get in behind.
Micky van de Ven (Community — 4.5): I kind of shudder to think where we’d be if not for Micky’s recovery pace. Ayew really tested Spurs’ high line and there were a number of occasions where Micky sprinted back to make a challenge or cut out what would be a promising attack.
4 stars: Ursa Major (The Great Bear/Big Dipper)
There’s a reason the Big Dipper is the most famous of all constellations in our night sky — it’s huge, easy to find, and provides general access to the north star (Polaris), which can provide direction for those lost in the night. The ancients had much greater imagination than we do — they saw a whole-ass bear while we just see... a giant spoon. But even five-year olds can recognize the Drinkin’ Gourd and can tell you instantly what it looks like. That’s a good constellation.
Cristian Romero (Community — 4.5): Hard to fault his performance too much. Didn’t necessarily do anything particularly spectacular, just a full 90 of solid defense and passes back to Van de Ven and Vicario to waste time.
James Maddison (Community — 4.0): Not his best performance but still a major part of Tottenham’s offense. Played the cross that Ward deflected in, and was part of the move that led Sonny’s goal as well. Overall — a good shift.
Ange Postecoglou (Community — 4.5): Hard to complain too much when the team keeps winning. Made some impactful subs at good times and got Bentancur some very important first minutes late in the match.
Pape Sarr (Community — 4.0): Probably his best performance since early in the season when he scored. Made some lovely passes and progressive runs in this match.
3.5 stars: Hercules
Orion takes all the glory, but Hercules is a pretty darned nifty star-man. He’s a big fella — fifth biggest constellation in the night sky, and is decently recognizable by his square chest. But he’s only viewable in the summer (in the northern hemisphere) and because he doesn’t have any 1st or 2nd magnitude stars he can be kind of a pain in the butt to find. Fun to discover, but he sometimes makes you work for it.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.0): Struggled to find space in the first half, but made the most out of the chances he had. That goal combination with Brennan Johnson was delightful.
Emerson Royal (Community — ): An improved performance to his shift against Fulham and stabilized the left side of the defense with his positioning and pace.
Brennan Johnson (Community — 4.0): Made an instant impact by combining with Maddison to tee up Son Heung-Min, grabbing an assist in the process. Also missed a close look at goal by deciding to back-head a cross instead of going for goal; I’ll be charitable and say that it was probably a lot more difficult than it looked on TV. Not always impactful, but had a some really nice moments. Encouraging.
3 stars: Gemini (The Twins)
I certainly don’t have anything against Gemini and I can also respect the symmetry in lines that apparently appealed itself to ancient stargazers. Castor and Pollux (named, duh, for the Greek mythological twins) are certainly stars bright enough to anchor a constellation. They’re also fairly close to Orion, so if you’re out in winter looking for the Hunter, you can check out the Twins as well. It’s not especially showy, though. Like Moussa Sissoko, it’s... fine.
Pedro Porro (Community — 3.5): Definitely not as impactful as in past matches. Struggled a bit to get past a well-structured Palace defense, though he improved in the second half. Was part of the build-up for the Ward own-goal but Palace’s forwards ate his lunch a couple of times.
Yves Bissouma (Community — 3.5): Let’s be honest — Yves struggled a bit at times out there, perhaps surprisingly so. Palace’s goal was to clog up the middle and prevent quick attacks centrally, and spent a lot of energy marking Bissouma out of the match. Some decent moments of play and critically avoided a yellow meaning he’s set to play vs. Chelsea.
Dejan Kulusevski (Community — 3.5): Deki continued his recent pattern of working incredibly hard to get in and around the box and then either chose not to shoot or wasn’t able to effectively make the final pass. If he could beat his man a little more frequently...
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 3.5): Provided a different look to Bissouma as a second half sub. He’s a useful rotation/substitution midfield, but I wonder about his place with Bentancur working his way back.
2.5 stars: Virgo (The Maiden)
There are some constellations where you can squint and kinda see where they’re going with that description, and others where you just wonder what the ancients were thinking. Virgo is one of them for me — I certainly don’t see a virgin in that group of stars and can conclude only that it was first dreamed up by some young and horny Mesopotamian.
Richarlison (Community — 3.0): Continues to do a bunch of hard work around Spurs’ box and in the press, but found chances difficult to come by and didn’t take advantages of the ones he had.
2 stars: Eridanus (the River)
It’s essentially a long line of moderately bright stars that don’t seem to fit anywhere else. I know, let’s call it a river! Pretty unimaginative — like this is a class project turned in last minute at Constellation School.
Ben Davies (Community — 3.0): I kinda feel bad about this rating, but Davies was clearly the wrong choice for a speedy and physical attacker like Ayew. Didn’t have the pace to hang and got blitzed on a number of occasions. Got hooked at halftime for an out-of-position Emerson who stabilized things quickly.
1 star: Canis Minor (the Little Dog)
Oh, you took two stars, drew a line between them, and called it a dog? How nice for you.
No Tottenham players were as bad as Canis Minor.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating (Carina)
Just a quick note here that I can’t let this article go by without mentioning Carina, one of the gems of the southern hemisphere. Can’t leave it out when it contains Canopus, the second brightest star in the heavens behind Sirius in Canis Major.
Rodrigo Bentancur, Bryan Gil
Erik Lamela Memorial Shithouse Award
Cuti Romero & Guglielmo Vicario (tie): Cuti is maybe a touch ahead for this award after gleefully playing through Palace fan boos for having the temerity to get fouled, but it was the way he and Elmo casually rolled the ball back and forth between each other late in the match to kill time that put them both here. You don’t need to knee a guy in the back or fake an injury to be good at this stuff. This was perfect, understated shithousery.