Arsène Wenger knew that December would be a crucial month for his Arsenal side and, broadly speaking, they came through it unscathed.
Although the Gunners lost their first Premier League game they started the month as leaders and ended it the same way. That's despite pre-emptive suggestions of a crisis after they were temporarily knocked off top spot with that 0-0 draw at Portsmouth on Boxing Day.
"Yes I feel it was a crucial time," said Wenger after the 4-1 win at Everton. "When you play Chelsea and Tottenham at home you are not sure you will win. Also it is usual to have tricky away games when you play at Portsmouth and Everton.
"What I found funny though is that we beat Chelsea and Tottenham but then we drew at Portsmouth and we were in crisis.
"However we had 44 points before the Everton game and that is one point less than in the unbeaten season when we had 45 from 19 matches. That tells you a lot about the quality of the team."
For the record, Arsenal picked up 14 points from their seven games in December. And, just to prove its importance in the campaign, if they progress in the cups in the New Year, it may take until mid-March for them to play another seven.Copyright 2017 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