Jose Mourinho finally unleashed his Fab Four – and yet we still ended up talking about VAR.
Tottenham boss Mourinho started with Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Gareth Bale and Dele Alli for the first time and was at least rewarded with a hard fought three points at Craven Cottage.
But still, rather than the enjoyment of watching such an attacking line-up (can you imagine how much it hurt Mourinho to be so open), the curse of video technology struck again.
Fulham boss Scott Parker was left furious by the latest VAR handball shocker which has left everyone utterly bemused about the laws of the game.
Josh Maja was denied what looked to be a perfectly good and well deserved equaliser because the ball hit Mario Lamina’s arm which was by his side but still ruled out after a VAR review.
Football’s lawmakers IFAB meet on Friday and the handball law is on the agenda and you can only hope they make it clear because the current confusion coupled with VAR is taking the fun out of the game.
Fulham deserved more, Tottenham got away with one and we have been talking about refereeing controversy rather than the football on far too many occasions this season.
You do get the feeling, however, we might not see Mourinho play such an attacking line-up again for quite some time because it was open and, well, far too entertaining for such an arch pragmatist.
The shame of it was that another review denied Alli his first goal in nearly a year because the dubious goal panel deemed the final touch came Fulham defender Tosin Adarabioyo.
Yet more killjoys to blame. Why they have to intervene is anyone’s guess. Alli, starting his first Premier League game since the opening day, would have got his first goal since March 7, 2020, and Adarabioyo was left with an unwanted own goal.
The Tottenham breakthrough came after 19 minutes as three of the four combined brilliantly and the whole forward line did stretch Fulham’s defence to the limit in the first half.
Bale, Son and Alli were involved before Son’s low cross flashed across goal, Alli flicked it towards the net but the final touch came off Adarabioyo.
Credit to Fulham who could have easily collapsed. But, like the story of their season, they refuse to give up.
Incredibly, Fulham had seven loan players in their starting line-up and how Scott Parker has got them so committed for the cause is nothing short of remarkable.
Fulham could have easily levelled in first half injury time when they put together a terrific move, Antonee Robinson weaved his way into the box, Maja set up Lemina but he fired horribly over.
But Fulham kept going. Joachim Andersen saw a header brilliantly tipped over by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris and then Fulham were denied a 63rd minute equaliser by VAR Peter Bankes.
Maja had the ball in the net, Fulham celebrated and yet it was overturned because Davinson Sanchez’s clearance hit Lamina’s arm and it was deemed handball.
What made it even worse was the replay being shown on the big screen in the stadium which prompted instant uproar among Fulham’s players and staff with a huge sense of injustice.
Ultimately, Fulham’s chance was gone as Mourinho reverted to type as he dragged off both Alli and Bale – well, it had to be those two – and sent on the more defensively-minded Moussa Sissoko and Lucas Moura.
We might not see such an attacking line-up again for a while.
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