Arsenal Under-21s resume their league campaign on Wednesday when they make the trip to the north-East to face Middlesbrough.
After finishing 2013 with a draw and a defeat, the young Gunners will be buoyed after a hard-fought win over Fulham in the U21 Premier League Cup on Thursday. Thomas Eisfeld poked home his third goal of the season in the second half to earn Steve Gatting's side an intriguing quarter-final clash at home to Chelsea.
But attention now turns to the league where Arsenal currently sit in 10th place but with the opportunity to make up ground on the teams above them with two games before the end of the month.
Gatting praised his side for their focus and discipline in their match against the Cottagers.
We've been very pleased with the defence this season but credit has to be given to the whole teamSteve Gatting
"We kept our shape well once we went 1-0 up and tried to catch them on the counter attack," Gatting told Arsenal.com. "The boys really stuck at it, We battled very well in the second half and in the end it was a very good result against a well-organised team.
"Chelsea will be an exciting game but also another tough test for us, we've had two very difficult games in the competition so far against Norwich and Fulham where we've had to put in very good defensive performances.
"We've been very pleased with the defence this season but credit has to be given to the whole team, our midfield have been disciplined with their shape and the forwards have been making the right runs and making sure they do their jobs defensively as well."
The Gunners will be confident of taking three points at Rockliffe Park, with Middlesbrough currently sitting third bottom of the league. Boro have won just one game at home this season, although they did win their final league game of 2013, beating Blackburn Rovers 2-0.
We will have live tweets from Rockliffe Park from 11.55am (UK time) on the @Arsenal account.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 14 Jan 2014