Alas, Tottenham Hotspur, a club noted for having a badge of a chicken standing on a soccer ball, lost its first match of the season on Monday. That wasn’t fun, especially since it was to an underwhelming Chelsea team led by none other than Tottenham’s former manager, Mauricio Pochettino.
But weirdly, despite the 4-1 loss, the vibes weren’t at all bad. Tottenham went down to nine players, lost two more players to injury (one potentially severe) and all anyone can talk about is how brave Spurs were in defeat and how their manager, Ange Postecoglou, is level-headed and rational compared to guys like Mikel Arteta and Jurgen Klopp. You’d take that under the circumstances, right?
So after the chicken club lost, let’s talk about chickens. Specifically, fictional ones. This theme allows me to dive into (mostly animated) fictional chicken lore, which was fun. It also gives me an opportunity to use one of my all time favorite Vines as an introduction (RIP Vine):
Honestly, this is a big category and there are so many chickens I want to highlight, but I’m unfortunately forced to select only a few. Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings for their 1-4 loss to Chelsea to the theme of fictional chickens.
5 stars: Foghorn Leghorn
Sure there’s some problematic elements by modern standards in his cartoons (it’s 1940s Looney Tunes, come on, of course there is), but Foghorn Leghorn is based on Senator Beauregard Claghorn and every other caricature of deep-south gentry — all bluster and folksy accents, little actual brain — which makes his appearances ironic, even for that time. And truthfully, Foghorn Leghorn is funny as hell. His constant feuds with George P. Dog are animated highlights, and like all large-stature blowhards, Foghorn usually gets his comeuppance (from Henry Hawk, Eggbert, and others) by the end of the short. I say... I say... that’s a gooooooood chicken.
Guglielmo Vicario (Community — 5.0): Yeah, he let in four goals. Don’t care. The bravery with which he played when under constant pressure was inspirational. Spurs lost 4-1, but might have lost 9-1 without him. He has a strong case for being the best keeper in the league right now.
4.5 stars: Heihei (Moana)
The best thing about Moana is LIn-Manuel Miranda’s songwriting. The second best thing about Moana is Heihei. He’s one bumbling, accident-prone, utterly brain-dead chicken, and that’s why he steals every scene he’s in.
Ange Postecoglou (Community — 3.5): Fans are torn as to whether Ange should’ve played more pragmatically when down two players. I say — you’re gonna lose that match 99% of the time under those circumstances, so why not go all out and have fun? Postecoglou lost the match, but won the narrative and that’s almost as important.
4 stars: Chicken Boo (Animaniacs)
Speaking of large chickens, Chicken Boo is one of the great tragedies of modern animation. Chicken Boo is a pariah in the Warner Brothers Greater Cinemanimated Universe, and why? Because he doesn’t act like the other chickens do. He wears a disguise to look like human guys, but he’s not a man, he’s a chicken, Boo. He doesn’t deserve the scorn he receives. Justice for Chicken Boo.
Pedro Porro (Community — 4.0): A tale of two halves for Pedro. Awful in the first half and excellent in the second. Nearly gave up a goal to Jackson and nearly created a goal on the other end. Four stars feels appropriate.
Yves Bissouma (Community — 3.5): Battled well in the midfield and never stopped moving. Gave everything out there, looked exhausted when he came off.
Pape Sarr (Community — 3.5): Involved in the setup and earned an assist for Kulusevski’s goal, passed well, defended well. Feels like he’s starting to figure things out.
Dejan Kulusevski (Community — 4.0): More impactful behind Chelsea’s line than we’ve seen from him in a while. His goal was deflected but he had acres of space and made a good decision to shoot. Looked gassed by the end, but fought bravely.
Son Heung-Min (Community — 4.0): Really thought he’d scored, but VAR disagreed (if barely). Saw his opportunities dry up when down two players, but still nearly leveled the score late. God, I love him.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community — 4.0): Super solid performance in difficult circumstances. I have no idea how he kept that shot out of the net. A dark horse for emergency CB in the future if things go pear-shaped?
3.5 stars: Camilla (Muppet Show)
Camilla was once a background chicken who was elevated to top tier status by the sheer force of Gonzo’s love. With apologies to Big Bird, Camilla is the best Muppet chicken, because she actually sounds like a chicken and isn’t a mutant talking bird on growth hormones with the intellect of a four year old. Over the decades, Camilla’s role has expanded to the point where she’s practically on equal billing with Gonzo, which is inspirational. We are all Camilla.
Micky van de Ven (Community — 3.5): Defended well while he was on the pitch. His injury looked awful and Spurs will absolutely miss him while he’s gone.
James Maddison (Community — 3.5): Amazing long pass to start the play that led to Deki’s goal. Was splitting Chelsea open before he injured his ankle. Hopefully it’s not serious, because he’s central to everything Spurs does right now.
Brennan Johnson (Community — 3.0): Didn’t have a ton of touches before being subbed off, but looked quite exciting when he did have the ball. Exquisite pass to Sonny for the waved-off goal. I’m starting to see why Ange likes him. With Richy out, he’ll get opportunities.
Emerson Royal (Community — 3.5): Made a case for starting at RCB while Cuti is injured. Solid performance and has the speed to play the high line.
Eric Dier (Community — 4.0): Look. We know Dier’s going to struggle in the high line. But he’s an experienced Premier League defender and showed that under extreme circumstances on Monday. So unlucky that goal didn’t count, what a finish.
3 stars: Gyro Gearloose
Most people of a certain age (*cough* Millennials) will know Gyro Gearloose from his recurring role in the original 1980s animated series Duck Tales, but he actually has a long history in Disney cartoons dating back to the 1950s. Gyro is an eccentric genius and the most accomplished chicken inventor in the Disney canon, but unfortunately his inventions often don’t work in the way that he intended because he so quickly moves on to other ideas before perfecting and polishing the last one. That makes him something of a liability to Scrooge and the Duck Triplets and prevents him from ascending higher than three stars in these rankings. (I cannot comment on the rebooted Duck Tales series because I haven’t watched it, sorry.)
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community — 3.5): Looked competent enough in limited minutes late in the match, which is good enough for me under the circumstances. Would’ve had an assist if Dier’s goal had counted.
2.5 stars: Torchic
I am not a Pokemon Knower, but I am told that Torchic is cool because, although a basic-ass Pokemon, he eventually evolves into Blaziken, a powerful fire Pokemon that is apparently pretty awesome. I have no idea. I just know that taken on its own merits, Torchic is just pretty bad. He also, according to this clip I found on YouTube, doesn’t share food which makes it also kind of a dick.
Oliver Skipp (Community — 3.0): Another underwhelming performance. Grade him on a curve if you want, but he was supposed to bring in energy and instead was just... there.
2 stars: Feathers McGraw (Wallace & Gromit)
Look, let’s get this out of the way first — Feathers McGraw is perhaps the greatest antagonist in the Wallace & Gromit series of short films. But he is not a chicken, he is a penguin with a glove on his head impersonating a chicken for unknown reasons, which for purposes of these rankings puts him near the bottom. Excellent evil bird, terrible chicken.
Cristian Romero (Community — 1.5): I don’t think there’s any arguing with this. Some good defensive moments, but petulantly kicked out at a player that the officials missed before getting sent off and earning a VAR-assisted penalty for going through a player on a clearance. You can argue about it (and I’m still not sure what he coudl’ve done in that situation) but I do think it was the right call. High risk, high reward player, and this time we got the bad side of that coin.
Destiny Udogie (Community — 2.0): Destiny’s a young player and looked like one on Monday night. Just two diabolically stupid challenges and he deserved cards for both of them. He knew it too on that second challenge.
1 star: Cornelius the Corn Flakes Rooster
Is there a more disappointing rooster? I’m not sure there is. Look, Corn Flakes suck. It’s an E-list cereal at best — not sweet, not interesting, doesn’t taste like anything in particular, just sadness and crunch in a bowl. Is it any wonder Frosted Flakes outsells Corn Flakes by more than 400%? Frosted Flakes has a cool tiger mascot with a bandana around its neck that excels in Sports You Play and is GRRRRREAT. Corn Flakes has this sad chicken named “Cornelius” that promises nothing and delivers even less. Screw this bird and its suck-ass cereal.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were worse than that rooster on the front of the Corn Flakes box.