Per Mertesacker admits that the next month could be “season-defining” for Arsenal.

The Gunners host Crystal Palace on Sunday, before facing Liverpool (twice), Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Sunderland.

Mertesacker is looking forward to the challenge, but says it is vital that they get off to a good start this weekend against their London rivals.

February is going to be the crucial month of this season in defining how we do

Per Mertesacker

“We played Palace away [in October] and at that stage they seemed not too bad, still lively but we took the points,” he told Arsenal Player. “Under Tony Pulis now they have really woken up and look a lot sharper than before.

“We need to respect that but we are at home and need to respond after the draw against Southampton. It is up to us to have a good reaction to show everyone that we maybe dropped two points but have recovered quickly.

“We need to put Man City under pressure, they have a big game on Monday and we are looking forward to getting the three points.

“February could be the season-defining month with a lot of crucial games coming up. [We have] big clashes against Liverpool in the FA Cup, against Bayern Munich and big games in the Premier League.

“So February is going to be the crucial month of this season in defining how we do.”

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 Rob Kelly 31 Jan 2014