It was Chelsea celebrating in north London for the second weekend running as the Blues came from behind to win in the Premier League for the first time this season and establish an 11-point advantage over Arsenal, our traditional top-four rivals.
The old ‘game of two halves’ adage certainly applied at the Emirates as Frank Lampard’s side trailed at the break before a much-improved second-half performance saw late goals from Jorginho and Tammy Abraham seal all three points.
It was a display that owed as much to bold decision-making from the sidelines as it did to heart and desire on the pitch, with Lampard switching from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3 as early as half hour into the game.
The introduction of teenager Tariq Lamptey with an hour on the clock and the score still 0-1 was another brave but decisive change, also encapsulating the manager’s keen desire to place faith in the young players at his disposal.
Lamptey was followed later in the second period by Callum Hudson-Odoi, which brought the total number of Chelsea players involved who signed for the club as eight-year-olds to five. Afterwards, Lamptey was understandably elated at his involvement - his senior debut coming in such pressurised, but ultimately victorious, circumstances.
‘It was an amazing moment to make my debut,’ said the 19-year-old. ‘I’m just really happy to help the team and contribute to a fantastic win. I have no words for it really, it just feels incredible.’
Lampard credited his assistants, Jody Morris and Joe Edwards, for convincing him that the youngster was ready for such a high-stakes introduction. Edwards has worked with the diminutive full-back in recent seasons with our development squad and coached him throughout the Academy age groups, while Morris won the FA Youth Cup and Under-18 Premier League in 2017/18 with Lamptey in his team.
‘They said believe in him, trust in him, because they did and I listened to that,’ said Lampard of his staff’s input. ‘My question to Jody when he came on was has he got the confidence and the personality to deal with this, and Jody said yeah, no problem.’
The Hillingdon-born defender revealed his boss’s calming words before sending him into the action and how his Christmas break had been cut short in dramatic fashion.
‘My heart was racing,’ he recalled of the seconds before coming on. ‘I was thinking this is the moment me and my family have been waiting for because everyone knows I joined the club at the age of eight. Frank just told me to be myself, play my normal game, go out and enjoy it.
‘You have to always be ready because in a game like that things can turn around so quickly. I’m just happy to have contributed and helped the team win such an amazing game.
‘Funnily enough, I got the text on Friday to say they needed me in and I was just with some friends and family. I trained on Saturday and then travelled with the team but I wasn’t expecting that so I have to say thank you to the manager for showing the belief and trust in me. I’m just happy I could help the team.’
The win continues our eight-game run of yo-yoing form, bouncing from defeat to victory since the end of last month, and much focus will now go into our New Year’s Day trip to Brighton as we seek back-to-back league wins for the first time since early November.
While Lamptey admitted Arsenal caused us problems, particularly in the first half, he also claimed the Chelsea character and spirit played a big part in us coming from behind to claim victory, attributing that to the daily work of Lampard and his staff with the players at Cobham.
‘Credit to Arsenal because they started really well and gave us a tough time but after the few changes, we livened up a bit and just started to play our normal game,’ he added. ‘We listened to what the coach had to say and then brought it out in the end.
‘He’s always demanding the best out of the players and all the coaches are always on us to put in 100 per cent every single day. We’re all working hard and putting it in together to make everything come out on the pitch.
‘Everything you saw today, we’ve been working on in training and then it’s about the fight, desire and winning mentality he’s trying to instil in us.’
How old is Tariq Lamptey?
Lamptey is 19 years old and does not turn 20 until next September.
When did he sign for Chelsea?
The defender joined our development centre programme at the age of seven and officially signed for the club as an Under-9, the earliest stage a player can register with a club.
What did he win in our Academy?
He was a crucial part of the Under-18s team that secured an unprecedented Quadruple of trophies in 2017/18 working under Jody Morris. Lamptey was the highest youth team appearance-maker that season and contributed with 11 assists, mostly as a result of his attacking threat from full-back or wing-back down the right.
His only goal of the campaign came in timely fashion in the national league final away at Manchester United.
Who are his age-group team-mates?
Callum Hudson-Odoi and George McEachran have been playing in the same team as Lamptey since they were kids, while Billy Gilmour has also been a team-mate since signing from Rangers in the summer of 2017.
What international football has he played?
Lamptey is currently an England Under-20 international and also represented the young Lions at the European Under-19 Championship in the summer of 2018.