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Arsenal Being Title Favourites in December Is Ruining Christmas

22/12/2015 20:28 GMT | Updated 22/12/2016 10:12 GMT

This has already been the most remarkable title race for years, but Monday night gave us possibly the most extraordinary development so far...

When on earth was the last time that Arsenal were title favourites at Christmas?

Frankly, it's just as unsettling as the unseasonably warm weather. You've been able to tell the time of year by the mood around the Emirates for years now - If they're on a brilliant run, it's April and they're too far behind to make a difference. If they're being talked about in the 'title favourites' conversation, it's July.

How are we supposed to know it's Christmas if the air isn't thick with the cries and wails of Arsenal fans cursing Arsene Wenger's transfer policy, their injury issues and lack of a goalscoring striker? It's inconsiderate, frankly. You can't get into the Christmas spirit unless you know there are Arsenal fans out there drowning their sorrows in Christmas spirits.

But no. This season, the natural order has been disturbed. Arsenal are good, and they're good in the winter. A blip in November came close to knocking them off-track, but they've come back strong, beaten Manchester City and now sit four places higher and nine points better off than this time last season.

The struggles of the other 'big' teams have certainly helped - this is arguably the weakest title race in a generation - but you can only beat the teams in front of you, and Arsenal now sit more than a game ahead of any team except Leicester City, the Foxes sitting pretty at the top of the table after tearing up the oft-cited 'established order'.

Leicester are a fascinating spanner in the works of the title race, throwing an extra chaotic element into a season which has already seen its share or weird and wacky results. December was supposed to begin to slow them down, with home games against Manchester United and Chelsea and a trip to dangerous Everton, but they've barely broken stride. A draw against United and wins over the two teams in blue which were more comfortable than the scorelines would let on, and they've actually managed to pull out a gap on their rivals rather than falling away.

It's still hard to really believe that their form is sustainable, but they're proving doubters wrong at every step of the way and they've now moved up above Manchester United, Liverpool and Spurs in the betting to become third favourites behind City and Arsenal. As easy as it is to write them off, their points total and potential to outscore any team in the country means that they have to be taken seriously from here on in. They've lost the fewest games in the league too, just the one, showing admirable consistency in a bizarre season.

The positive for Arsenal there? That one game that Leicester lost this season was against the Gunners at the King Power stadium, and it wasn't even close. The north London side went through Leicester like a cheap 3am kebab, and left a comparable mess in their wake, winning 5-2.

One of the most important games coming up for the favourites is one in which they don't even feature - when the Foxes host Manchester City next Tuesday. Assuming the Boxing Day games go as expected, a win for Leicester would leave City nine points off the lead and seven points behind Arsenal - a truly significant gap to make up. A draw could be even better for Arsene Wenger and co, leaving them top of the table at the turn of the year with a six point gap on their biggest rivals.

A convincing City win would probably be the result that favours the Gunners the least, keeping Manuel Pellegrini's side within sniffing distance of the top of the table, but it would at least knock Leicester off the top and into a more manageable position. A draw would work best, but every result helps the Gunners in some way - and cements their place as favourites to win their first Premier League title since 2004.

There's a long way to go, of course, and a number of potential pitfalls along the road to the end of the season - but Arsenal fans can justifiably seem optimistic about their title chances this season.

It's December.

This is wrong.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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