Over the last few seasons Arsenal have impressed with their fine springtime form. It has never been quite enough to repair the damage done by inconsistent starts or faltering winter periods, though.
However, this time around, there is a very real chance that the North London outfit could be sitting pretty on top of the Premier League at the turn of the year.
Arsene Wenger’s charges are currently just two points behind surprise leaders Leicester City and have an easier festive fixture list than any of the other big boys is the chasing pack.
Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester top the pile after 15 games having out-scored every other side in the division and entertained fans from day one. The Foxes however, will have their staying power severely tested over the next three weeks. It will be huge surprise, and indeed a statement of title intent, if they still lead the race come 2016.
A wounded Jose Mourinho and Chelsea are next to visit the King Power Stadium. Jamie Vardy and co then face consecutive away trips to Merseyside before the visit of Manchester City on December 29.
Arsenal meanwhile, have a schedule which, without being straightforward, gives them plenty of opportunities to amass points.
Next up is a trip to rock -bottom Aston Villa, who are showing some spirit under Remi Garde, but seem incapable of keeping clean sheets. The key components of the Gunners’ forward line will surely be licking their lips.
The following fixture most likely holds the key to which side will occupy top spot on New Year’s Day. Arsenal entertain Manchester City. The match will be a huge challenge for Wenger’s men, but home advantage means they have a great chance to put a big dent in City’s title challenge.
A win for the visitors would likely see them take first place for the turn of the year, while a draw, could even see Manchester United edge in front.
If they do manage to take all three points, Arsenal would then need to consolidate their position against the two South coast clubs; Southampton away, then Bournemouth at the Emirates.
Manchester City, three points off the pace are the bookies’ favourites and have what looks like a home banker next against struggling Swansea.
Then comes the potential six-pointer in North London. Another straightforward home fixture against Sunderland follows before Manuel Pellegrini must take his side to Leicester for their last match of 2015.
It remains to be seen whether the Foxes will still have some momentum at that point, yet Arsene Wenger will nevertheless be confident the encounter will be a major banana skin for his title rivals.
Manchester United are the subject of much discussion due to the nature of their play but, to credit Louis Van Gaal where it it’s due, are behind City only on goal difference. The Red Devils though, must travel to Bournemouth next with the Cherries having just beaten Chelsea. United’s other imminent away day is at Stoke which looks brutally tough given City’s recent humbling there.
Van Gaal will be banking on three points at home to Norwich with the last game of the year at Old Trafford currently looking to be an, albeit crucial, bore fest against Chelsea.
The rundown of fixtures for the clubs near the top over the League between now and January 1 therefore gives Arsenal a great opportunity, but the Emirates Stadium outfit must produce performances when it matters, especially when they entertain City.
Wenger’s teams have taken plenty of criticism in recent years for a lacking a battling quality and a bit of steel in the big games.
Last week’s gritty win over an improved Sunderland though, showed perhaps that this year the Gunners have the necessary resilience to grind out results and cope with the pressures of managing what has become an almost annual injury crisis.
There is no questioning the ability of this Arsenal squad; if they can prove over the next few weeks they also have the right mentality, they could find themselves in pole position for a serious title bid.