Getting drawn against Liverpool in the fifth round of the FA Cup has set up Arsenal for a very testing February on all fronts, now including at two least meetings with the Reds, plus matches against Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
The Gunners can make sure they start that month as league leaders though, by winning at Southampton on Tuesday night, a match which could see Aaron Ramsey back from injury.
Their title rivals have been pushing them hard in recent weeks, with Chelsea winning their last five league matches, and Manchester City their last seven, but Arsenal have defied expectations by keeping on winning themselves. The fact they’ve had to battle hard for some of those victories has only underlined their genuine title credentials.
Also on Tuesday night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could find himself in the unusual position of being an away manager who’s more popular with the home fans than their own manager is. The man whose stoppage time goal won the Champions League final for Manchester United 15 years ago, goes back there with his Cardiff side.
And as Merseyside derbies go, we haven’t seen many as important as this one since the 1980s. Liverpool can put four points between themselves and Everton with a win at Anfield, and it could also strengthen their grip on 4th position over Tottenham, who face a tough one at home to Manchester City the next night.
But a win for Everton would take them back into the top four for at least one night and very possibly into the weekend, and would be the sort of boost which could lift them to new heights, in terms of belief that they really might be playing in the Champions League next season.