How February will define Arsenal's season
Arsenal's 3-1 victory at home to Stoke sent them top of the Premier League table on Saturday, albeit only for a day. Chelsea squeezed past a stringent West Brom side at Stamford Bridge to return to the summit, though Arsene Wenger's side are breathing down their necks.
It's been a fine campaign for the Gunners to date. Not only are they piecing together a substantial title challenge, but the north London side progressed into the last 16 of the Champions League as Group A winners, remaining unbeaten over six ties against opponents consisting of Paris Saint-Germain, Ludogorets and FC Basel.
Their reward? A two-legged knockout tie with German giants Bayern Munich. Again.
This will be the fourth Champions League campaign in which Arsenal will take on Bayern, and it could hardly come at a worse time for Wenger and his troops.
Arsenal's trip to Bavaria is pencilled in for Wednesday February 15 - a month which is set to define the Gunners' season.
To start, on February 4, Arsenal travel across London to take on current leaders Chelsea. Not only does the tie have an emotional rivalry hanging over it, it could potentially have a say on who eventually lifts the Premier League trophy in May. Whilst Wenger has a somewhat questionable record against the Blues, he did lead his team to a 3-0 win in the reverse fixture at the Emirates earlier in the season.
Next comes what should be the easiest tie of the month, a home tie against Mike Phelan's Hull side, though the Tigers are sure to be scrapping for points as they look to fight away the threat of relegation. The Gunners eased past a 10-man Hull side in September, with Alexis Sanchez scoring twice.
Bayern Munich away comes four days later, with a trip to Southampton following. Wenger will require a little bit of luck with injuries and suspensions towards the back end of the season, with history showing his players have been unavailable at the most inappropriate of times.
Arsenal's next fixture is scheduled to be a trip to Anfield to take on Jurgen Klopp's energetic Liverpool side, meaning three away ties in a row, before they welcome champions Leicester City to the Emirates, with the return against Bayern sandwiched in between.
The performances of Alexis and Mesut Ozil have shaped the Gunners into what looks to be a serious title contender this season, though many still expect them to fall short. With an increasingly difficult final few months to endure of the season, it's clear to see why. However, to be the best you must beat the best, and Wenger will at least have a transfer window to strengthen his squad as he sees fit.