Manchester City continued their inexorable march towards the Premier League title on Saturday with a 4-1 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur.
There were also impressive wins for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool as they attempt to keep pace with Pep Guardiola’s leaders.
RALPH ELLIS looks at 10 things we learned from this week’s games up and down the country…
Jurgen Klopp’s biggest decision over Christmas will be whether he needs to rest Mo Salah
1. Klopp’s Salah days
Jurgen Klopp’s biggest decision over the Christmas schedule will be whether he needs to rest scoring sensation Mo Salah. The Egyptian’s goals have become crucial to his team but in his first season back in English football Salah has figured in all but one of Liverpool’s 27 matches and has clocked up more minutes (2,021) than any Premier League striker except Romelu Lukaku (2,167).
Salah’s explosive pace puts him at risk of hamstring injuries if he is fatigued and Klopp can’t afford to be without him for any length of time.
Pep Guardiola seems committed to helping Phil Foden make the progress everybody hopes for
2. Foden shines again
Pep Guardiola seems committed to helping teenage sensation Phil Foden make the progress everybody hopes to see. When the Manchester City youngster came home from England’s Under 17 World Cup victory as the player of the tournament there were fears he’d get no chance to break through amid the club’s multi-million pound stars.
Having given local lad Foden a taste of first team football in the European Cup, Guardiola has now ushered him into his Premier League debut. It was a hugely encouraging seven-minutes at the end of City’s 4-1 win over Tottenham too – he found a team mate with every one of his nine passes.
Roy Hodgson seems to have found a central role to get the best out of Ruben Loftus-Cheek
3. Loftus-Cheek centre of attention
More good news for Gareth Southgate is that Roy Hodgson seems to have found a more central role to get the best out of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 21-year-old young Chelsea star, on loan all season at Crystal Palace, has been tied to a wide midfield job so far but he was shifted into the middle in the 3-0 win at Leicester.
He responded superbly, making one goal and creating two other chances, while no team mate played more accurate forward half passes than his 35.
Nemanja Matic has made huge efforts to tidy up his tackling since joining Manchester United
4. Matic cleans up his act
Nemanja Matic has made huge efforts to tidy up his tackling since joining Manchester United in the summer. The Serbian midfielder had a reputation for occasionally leaving his foot in during his early days at Benfica, and picked up 10 yellows and a red in his first full season as a Chelsea player.
However Matic, now aged 29, has been a changed man this term. He finally collected his first booking in 25 club games in the 2-1 win at West Brom, and that was for dissent during a game in which he’d won the ball back a dozen times.
West Ham could do worse than tie veteran defender James Collins down on a new contract
5. Dependable Collins
West Ham could do worse than tie James Collins down on a new contract because when you want some inspiring defending the 34-year-old can still be relied on.
The Wales defender, whose current deal runs out in June, was immense in Hammers’ 3-0 win at Stoke, dealing with the aerial threat of Peter Crouch. He made 18 clearances, was responsible for three of the nine Stoke shots that were blocked, and cut out any number of crosses too.
Jack Wilshere might just be winning over Arsene Wenger for his role in Arsenal’s future
6. Is Wilshere’s latest comeback for real?
Whisper it softly after so many comebacks that have faltered, but Jack Wilshere might just be winning over Arsene Wenger for his role in Arsenal’s future. The 25-year-old’s performance in the 1-0 win over Newcastle meant he’d played 90 minutes for two Premier League games in a row for the Gunners for the first time since February 2014.
Wilshere looked promising too – he failed to find a team mate with only five of 58 passes and won the ball back more often (10) than any other Arsenal player.
Marco Silva faces a Christmas test to prove he’s not just a manager for short term success
7. Marco Silva must rediscover golden touch
Marco Silva faces a huge Christmas test to prove he’s not just a short-term manager when it comes to Premier League football. The Watford boss has followed a brilliant start of 21 points from 13 games by taking just one from five – an echo of his time at Hull when 17 points from 11 was followed by four from seven.
After the miserable 4-1 home defeat by Huddersfield, Watford go to Brighton then play Leicester and Swansea at home over Christmas and Silva simply has to pick up some results from those games.
Gary Rowett’s Derby are in the thick of the Championship promotion race after another win
8. Rowett rising
Gary Rowett is the sort of man who will take little pleasure in seeing old club Birmingham at the foot of the Championship, but exactly a year from his sacking at St Andrew’s he’s proving his quality as a boss.
The 2-0 over Aston Villa made it nine wins from 12 games to put Derby into the thick of the promotion chase.
Bradford face losing striker Charlie Wyke in January, after he scored his 11th goal of the season
9. Wyke-up call for Bradford?
Bradford arguably killed Carlisle’s promotion chances a year ago when they signed top scorer Charlie Wyke and must be praying they are not now on the receiving end of the same scenario.
The 25-year-old who began his career at Middlesbrough got his 11th of the season in the 2-1 win at Southend which pushed the Bantams into the play-off places. Wyke, who cost £250,000 last January, would now command a fee ten times that but is attracting attention from Championship clubs.
Matt Rhead made his name in Lincoln’s FA Cup exploits and he’s taking to life in League Two
10. Rhead all about it
Giant Matt Rhead made a name for himself during Lincoln’s FA Cup exploits last season and he’s taking to life in League Two very nicely now. The 6ft 4ins striker, who weighs nearly 17 stone, scored his fourth in 12 starts to set up a 2-0 win over Accrington that pushed last season’s Vanarama National League champions into the play-off places.
Rhead, 33, who used to work at the JCB factory in Staffordshire building diggers, has just signed a new contract which will keep him at the club until 2019.