The Christmas schedule is notoriously the most demanding period of the entire Premier League season.It’s the time where new managers to the league get a rude awakening. Unai Emery falls straight into that category and the coach’s high-pressing system will be thoroughly tested over the December/January period.

Here’s the best Arsenal Xi going into the festive period.  

GK: Bernd Leno

Since Petr Cech’s unfortunate hamstrjing injury inSeptember, Bernd Leno has swiftly established himself as Emery’s first-choicekeeper. His on the ball skills and youthful exuberance have made him a favorite over Petr Cech.

RCB: Sokratis Papastathopoulos

The Greek warrior has become a rock at the back for the Gunners, filling the void left by Laurent Koscielny. Going into the Christmas period, Arsenal will need his combative nature more than ever.

CB: Laurent Koscielny

It’s beyond a blessing to have the club captain back in time for Christmas. On his day, there is no better centre-back in the league than the Frenchman. His leadership qualities will help the Gunners buck their poor defensive start to the season.

LCB: Nacho Monreal

Like his French compatriot, the Spaniard’s return is a welcome development for the Gunners as he has the experience to help move things up at the back. Whether at LCB or LB, Monreal will certainly improve the team’s defensive solidity.

RWB: Ainsley Maitland-Niles

With Héctor Bellerín out with an unfortunate calf problem,this will be Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ opportunity to make a mark in the first team set up. Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cameos so far haven’t been too encouraging and Emery will, therefore, look to the youngster to show him something different.

LWB: Sead Kolašinac

The Bosnian left-back has made the left flank his own under Unai Emery with several meaningful contributions going forward. In defence, sometimes his positioning has been found wanting but that’s nothing Emery can’t sort out.

CDM: Lucas Torreira

The signing of theseason? The missing piece? Lucas Torreira has been a revelation since arriving at the Emirates. He’s been described as the best Arsenal defensive midfielder since Gilberto Silva, that’s some high praise and exactly the reason why his energetic presence will be vital to Arsenal’s success over the festive period.

CM: Granit Xhaka

The Swiss international may have his detractors, but even they will feel the midfielder has improved in leaps & bounds this season. His strong tackles and varied passing have made him one of the most important players in the XI.

LW: Alex Iwobi

When the Nigerian youngster received a new contract in the summer, many a fan raised a furrowed eyebrow. But it seems as though the faith Unai Emery has invested in him has paid off. Now the 22-year-old regularly takes on opposing defenders and creates chances for his teammates in place of Mesut Özil.

RW: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

It must be said the Armenian’s Arsenal career has been a hit and miss so far. We’ve even seen that inconsistency in the Emery era, but the coach has stuck with him and seen the fruits of his labour. The 29-year-old has impressively contributed seven goals this season, making him the team’s most influential players.

ST: Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang

Although he was Arsène Wenger’s signing, PierreEmerick-Aubameyang has taken his game to new heights under Unai Emery, scoring 10 goals in 17 league games. If Arsenal is to keep up with the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea, they’ll need the firepower of the Gabonese going forward.

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