Despite a tumultuous first half of the season, a win at Wigan on Saturday would represent a third league victory on the bounce and take the Gunners, temporarily at least, back into the top four.
In this particularly tightly-fought Premier League, a team can go from the verge of disaster to an optimistic rebirth in just a couple of matches. Arsenal have ridden that tightrope more than any other club this campaign. As the games come thick and fast over the festive period, Arsenal will know that the remainder of the season could be hugely impacted by their form in the next two weeks.
"It’s really important that everyone stays focused now," defender Kieran Gibbs said, according to Arsenal’s official website.
"This is the busiest part of the season and if we can keep everyone together through this period and get good results under our belt, it puts us in a strong position for the rest of the season.
"You can see that players will start to get tired. Players who have played in almost every game need to be rested sometimes and this is the time to do that. This is the time for the other players to come and give their part for the team."
Arsenal’s workload over the holidays has been lessened by the postponement of their match against West Ham on December 26 due to a strike by drivers on the London Underground. While Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said that he wanted the game to go ahead, the postponement should ease anxieties about his key players suffering from burnout over the traditionally hectic period.
Wenger’s key selection dilemma against Wigan looks set to be whether to stick with Theo Walcott in the central striking role that he operated in during Monday’s 5-2 victory over Reading. Arsenal’s injury list is uncharacteristically thin, with just Abou Diaby, Andre Santos and Lukasz Fabianski currently on the sidelines.
Arsenal take on a Wigan side in desperate need of a result to kick-start their festive program after a desperate run of from that has seen them lose five of their last seven matches and drop into the Premier League’s relegation zone.
Boss Roberto Martinez has not been helped by a lengthy injury list that now includes key midfielder James McCarthy after he suffered an ankle injury in the 2-1 defeat to Norwich last weekend. There could be some good news, however, with Ivan Ramis potentially back in contention for Saturday.
D: Boyce, Piscu, Figueroa
M: Stam, McArthur, Jones, Beausejour
F: Gomez, Di Santo, Kone
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs
M: Arteta, Wilshere
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
Prediction: Although Arsenal won convincingly against Reading, the quality of the opposition was incredibly poor for much of the contest. When Reading did start to perform, Arsenal conceded twice and looked shaky. The Gunners are fortunate to be facing a Wigan side on the slide and who have managed just two clean sheets all season.
With Wigan also missing McCarthy in midfield, Arsenal should be able to control the contest and get a narrow victory.
Wigan 1-2 Arsenal
Where to watch: The Premier League contest kicks-off from the DW Stadium at 7.45 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.