Sometimes you see a team sheet come through that looks a little too good to be true.
For Tottenham, there’ll be universal happiness among their fans seeing Harry Kane and Son Heung-min starting games. They’re two of the best players in the Premier League. Smiles will appear on faces, naturally.
How about Gareth Bale? Spurs supporters have yearned to see him start matches for most of the season, though injury issues and some below average performances have limited his contributions. With good showings against Burnley, West Ham and Wolfsberger in the bag, the Welshman was given the nod again alongside Kane and Son for the trip to Fulham on Thursday.
Dele Alli? Well, he’s quite a divisive player. He’s starting to show signs of the player who took England’s top flight by storm during his early years, and by and large has been cast aside by a section of Spurs fans a little too easily after a difficult few years.
At one point in the season, it seemed nigh on impossible that the quartet would all feature in the same starting XI, but they did as manager Jose Mourinho seemed to opt for the more positive approach that was on full display in the 4-0 thrashing of Burnley.
What do we even call them? BASK? Err, SHAG? GA- no, that’s a step too far, that one.
Unfortunately, Thursday night wasn’t too much about, err, BASK. Individually, they all played fine. Dele gave everyone a timely reminders of his attacking quality, his movement in the box leading to Tosin Adarabioyo’s own goal which decided the game. Kane was similar, though missed a few sitters that would have put the result beyond any doubt. Bale played an important pass in the buildup to the goal and Son whipped the ball in but looked knackered in the second half.
For the decent attacking play in the first half, there was a saddening familiarity about the second period.
A quick scroll through any Tottenham fan’s Twitter feed would have shown the same thing – nobody liking the approach to drop deeper and deeper and deeper, inviting the hosts to attack in search for the equaliser.
Ultimately, the Cottagers couldn’t find a way through. They huffed and puffed and Hugo Lloris had a couple of saves to make, but it wasn’t a case of Tottenham digging in and earning all three points with a resolute defensive performance. It was decent, but given that Spurs have dropped points in the exact same scenario so frequently this season, it can hardly be seen as some tactical masterstroke.
Tottenham got away with it. They couldn’t keep the ball for long periods and a team better than 18th placed Fulham will be able to convert that sustained pressure into goals.
The pre-match chat was rightly about ‘BASK’, or whatever you want to call them. Spurs are seven billion games into their schedule this season, but this ‘drop deep’ phase needs to end. Too often they look knackered while their opponents seize the initiative, and usually it ends up costing them points.