Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

1) Lamptey’s fine debut may not prevent rapid Chelsea exit

Welcome to the Premier League, then, Tariq Lamptey. And – quite possibly – farewell. For the 19-year-old right-back, the Emirates Stadium was some place to make a professional debut. He rose to the challenge, keeping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet and making one thrilling foray into Arsenal territory before playing in Tammy Abraham. It says plenty about Chelsea’s short-term youth policy that Lampard felt able to throw an untried teenager into a game of this magnitude. It says plenty about Chelsea’s long-term youth policy that they may not be able to keep him. Lamptey’s contract is up at the end of the season, and Paris Saint-Germain are ready to pounce. “Hopefully he feels a bit of love,” Lampard said afterwards. The question, with three right-backs ahead of him and time running out, is whether it will be enough. Jonathan Liew

Match report: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

2) Cook serves up cold hard truths for Bournemouth

Eddie Howe knows Bournemouth’s backs are against the wall after seven defeats in their past nine matches and there is no room to hide as they attempt to stop the rot. January could yet bring some respite and next month looks pivotal to their survival chances. They face three of the four teams below them in their next three matches before a reunion with Brighton, who brushed them aside on Saturday. Injuries have taken their toll – they have nine first-team players sidelined, including Nathan Aké and David Brooks – but, as the captain Steve Cook openly acknowledged, there is no excuse for failing to execute the basics. “We looked flat on our feet, dead on our feet from front to back,” the defender said. “We have got to recover and really reflect on this because it was nowhere near good enough. No fight, no endeavour, no bravery.” Ben Fisher

Match report: Brighton 2-0 Bournemouth

3) Pereira hits top gear when United need him most

With Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay’s absences dominating the pre-match discussion for Manchester United on Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s makeshift midfield trio did a fine job without them at Burnley. Fred’s resurgence in a United shirt continued apace while Nemanja Matic did what was asked of him in typical Nemanja Matic fashion. But perhaps the biggest positive was Andreas Pereira. Turf Moor was the backdrop for possibly the most impressive performance of his United career to date, where he was arguably the best player on the field until his substitution, typified by his inch-perfect assist for Anthony Martial’s opener. It felt like a coming-of-age display and with McTominay out for a month and questions about Pogba never far away, Pereira showed he has the ability to play a key role for Solskjær in 2020. Aaron Bower

Match report: Burnley 0-2 Manchester United

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4) Nuno’s tinkering spares Liverpool full force of Traoré

Pep Guardiola’s complaints about the heaviness of the festive fixture list raised the usual catcalls from those who believe multimillionaire footballers should play every day if the paying public demand it. But his sense the fates and authorities are against Manchester City will not have been dimmed by Nuno Espírito Santo’s team selection at Anfield. Adama Traoré had dismantled City on Friday night and yet Liverpool did not face Wolves’s right-wing flier until the 58th minute, by which time the runaway leaders were in front. “No matter who is inside the pitch we are always confident we can compete with the best,” said Nuno in explaining his four starting selection changes. His team was true to his word but Liverpool will have been relieved they did not face Traoré’s explosiveness for a full 90 minutes when they themselves were coming off a heavy schedule. John Brewin

Match report: Liverpool 1-0 Wolves

Adama Traoré gets away from Jordan Henderson during a threatening cameo.

Adama Traoré gets away from Jordan Henderson during a threatening cameo. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

5) Guardiola must spend to fix City’s ramshackle defence

It only takes a simple pass to rip open the City defence and it has been happening all too often. The team is struggling to cope without Aymeric Laporte but the constant changing of the back four is not helping anyone. Eric García was the latest to be sent into the quagmire, playing next to Oleksandr Zinchenko, who was starting his first Premier League game since September. If it was not for VAR, City would have gone behind only for Lys Mousset to be deemed marginally offside. There was no offside trap involved, as at the time the City defence was shaped like a diamond and not capable of repelling any form of attack, let alone one at pace. Pep Guardiola needs to think long and hard about what he does in January as without defensive reinforcement the chances of winning the elusive Champions League trophy will diminish. Will Unwin

Match report: Manchester City 2-0 Sheffield United

6) Unlikely double act puts Everton in fight mode

Carlo Ancelotti and Duncan Ferguson may not seem natural soulmates but Jordan Pickford sees dream-team potential in their ostensibly unlikely manager-assistant double act at Everton. Forget the moment when Ferguson, back to No 2 after his caretaker stint, almost knocked Ancelotti over as he celebrated Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s first goal and a subsequent cameo when the Italian appeared to be advising him to calm down, England’s goalkeeper envisages a sharp climbing of the table. “It’s great to have Carlo in charge,” said Pickford. “He’s tried to implement one or two things and we’ll need time to adapt but we’re showing great character. We were underachieving but Duncan brought a bit of fight to the team which is crucial. That’s the Everton way. The new boss has made it clear he wants us to play football but also show fight. Suddenly fifth or sixth position is within reach.” Louise Taylor

Match report: Newcastle 1-2 Everton

Carlo Ancelotti watches on serenely as Duncan Ferguson issues the orders.

Carlo Ancelotti watches on serenely as Duncan Ferguson issues the orders. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

7) Could Ndombele be long-term replacement for Dembélé?

José Mourinho slightly overstated matters when he said his Spurs side had “created from minute one to minute 90” in their draw with Norwich. With as many as seven offensive players on the pitch (in the nicest sense), there was a lot of attempted creativity, but not necessarily the cohesion to make it work. Many players were playing in roles they were unaccustomed to, but some adapted better than others. Tanguy Ndombele can impress as a marauding midfielder but here he was the defensive midfield pivot and performed the role well. His touch and control in tight spaces, his accurate passing, combined with his core strength, is reminiscent at times of Mousa Dembélé. Ndombele could yet be the former favourite’s long-term replacement but it should be noted that the Frenchman was also dispossessed five times, more than any other player. Paul MacInnes

Match report: Norwich 2-2 Tottenham

8) Wickham back from cold to end Hodgson’s wondrous year

With more than half the season gone, Roy Hodgson’s side are closer to the top four than the relegation zone and the Crystal Palace manager has every right to feel upbeat. Not even his injury list – seven first-team players are out – can cloud Palace’s progress. Jaïro Riedewald impressed as an emergency left-back on his second league start since February 2018 while Hodgson had three under-23s on the bench plus Connor Wickham, whose last league start was more than three years ago. Palace, who travel to Norwich on New Year’s Day after one defeat in their past seven matches, are heavily depleted but Hodgson will not allow anything to dampen the mood. “It has been a wondrous 2019,” Hodgson said. “We were looking over our shoulders last Christmas, but had a great spring to lift us up the table, and now we have 27 points at the end of the year.” Ben Fisher

Match report: Southampton 1-1 Crystal Palace

9) Has Pearson usurped Pulis and Allardyce as chief firefighter?

The time of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis as speed-dial, panic-button appointments may finally have passed. Both now work in the media and seemingly contentedly so. Neither would turn down good money if it came their way but their status as English football’s kitemarked-for-safety managers is under threat from Nigel Pearson. Seven points from Watford’s last three matches after giving Liverpool a scare in his first match in charge, and Pearson is being cast as the Red Adair of the Premier League. It is five seasons since he pulled Leicester from the mire, but with trusted ally Craig Shakespeare again by his side, Watford are showing similar fire to that Foxes team of the latter half of the 2014-15 season. Troy Deeney leads a collection of seasoned professionals responding strongly to their new manager’s coercive approach. John Brewin

Troy Deeney lifts Étienne Capoue off the floor afetr Ismaïla Sarr (bottom) sealed vicyroy over Aston Villa by scoring the third goal.

Troy Deeney offers to drag Étienne Capoue and Ismaïla Sarr off the floor just as Nigel Pearson has done for Watford. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/Reuters

Match report: Watford 3-0 Aston Villa

10) Forward-thinking Rodgers is plotting regular title tilts

How many sides in the Premier League could sustain nine changes and still win away from home? How many teams could lose Jamie Vardy and still provide such a potent attacking threat? Granted, Brendan Rodgers’ men were facing a West Ham outfit on a miserable run, and the soon-to-be-sacked Manuel Pellegrini also made changes. But the Foxes would have won more comfortably had Lukasz Fabianski not saved Demarai Gray’s penalty. Rather than giving the appearance of a weakened team owing to the fixture pile-up, Leicester had the luxury of turning to young talents such as Gray and Kelechi Iheanacho, both clearly determined to state their cases for regular starting spots. Ayoze Pérez’s assist for Gray’s winner was sublime, too. While the title may look out of reach, Rodgers is building an obvious momentum at the King Power. Luke McLaughlin

Match report: West Ham 1-2 Leicester