Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has spoken of his belief that December will be a 'very, very important' month.
Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all face each other in the next few weeks and on Sunday Spurs host the title holders at White Hart Lane. However, City do not face any of these and this weekend's fixture is bottom placed West Ham at Upton Park.
And should they beat the Hammers they will go joint top with Arsenal who play United at Old Trafford. The side's manager admits it is a great opportunity, but wants his players to focus on underlining their title credentials by getting maximum points from their matches.
He has also spoken of how the Premier League has been 'very strange' this season, as all the top-four teams have only three points between them, but also added that things might changing as soon as the Champions League starts again.
The Italian also added how important December's fixtures will be to City's progress.
"We are not playing against those three, but we are still playing against strong teams.
"It's more important that we play well against West Ham and win if possible.
"We must look at ourselves and win these games against West Ham and then Everton. West Ham, Everton and Newcastle are very difficult games for us."
City will be without top scorer Carlos Tevez and new defender Aleksandar Kolarov, who are both serving suspensions. Mancini's other defensive issue, Kolo Toure – who felt a tightness in his calf against Bolton – appears to be resolved as he is likely to start.
West Ham's Swiss midfielder, Valon Behrami, has hip problem and faces a fitness test. Mark Noble (hip) will be out until the new year.