December 23, 2019 / 9:23 AM / a month ago

Soccer-Talking points from Premier League weekend

LONDON, Dec 23 (Reuters) - A few talking points from the weekend’s Premier League action.

CHELSEA’s RUDIGER BLASTS RACIST ABUSE

Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger said he faced racist abuse during his club’s 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur, triggering a flood of messages of support and calls for action against racism in the English game.

Tottenham vowed to take the “strongest possible action” if any fan is identified as having made racist gestures.

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville said players should walk off in solidarity if a team mate is abused. The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) has called for government action to tackle the problem that has reared its head across Europe this season.

LAMPARD OUTSHINES OLD BOSS MOURINHO

Frank Lampard faced the biggest challenge of his reign as Chelsea manager as he went head-to-head with his old mentor Jose Mourinho. He emerged with top marks after a 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur strengthened Chelsea’s hold on fourth place.

After a run of four defeats in five league games, Lampard tweaked his system to 5-2-3 from his usual 4-3-3 and Chelsea dominated their London rivals from start to finish.

It was a significant moment for Lampard as he got the better of a manager renowned for tactical acumen. It was a reality check for Tottenham as the “Mourinho bounce” came to an end in dismal fashion.

HAS PEARSON STARTED WATFORD’S GREAT ESCAPE?

Watford’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United was only their second of the season and offered a glimpse of an escape route from the bottom of the table.

Pearson saved Leicester City from the drop against the odds in 2014-15, the season before they won the title under Claudio Ranieri, and Watford fans believe he can repeat that feat.

Watford were resolute and organised against United with Ismaila Sar and Troy Deeney scoring early in the second half. While they will be bottom at Christmas they are level on points with Norwich City and six from the safety zone.

MANCHESTER CITY BACK IN FORM

It might already be too late, but Manchester City’s 3-1 home win over Leicester City was a reminder to Liverpool that Pep Guardiola’s side will not relinquish their title with a whimper.

Leicester had emerged as Liverpool’s closest pursuers and could have closed the gap to seven points on Saturday but despite taking the lead were outplayed as City clicked.

City remain 11 points adrift in third place but look capable of putting together a long winning run that could yet make the title race interesting in the New Year. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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