December was as busy as it's going to get for Arsenal in 2023/24, and signs of weariness had undoubtedly crept in by the time 2024 rolled around.
The Gunners ended the calendar year with back-to-back defeats, ending a festive onslaught. While there were elements of misfortune surrounding their 2-0 loss at home to West Ham, the lethargy which plagued their performance at Craven Cottage has many questioning just how far Mikel Arteta can take his side this season.
There was always going to be an overreaction.
It shouldn't be forgotten that December started rather productively for Arteta's men, but the eight-game toll that came with the final month of the year eventually proved too much.
So, who were Arsenal's standout performers over the festive period? Here's our Player of the Month award for December 2023.
3. Martin Odegaard (Average rating - 6.78)
Arteta's emphasis upon duels and Arsenal's greater directness has seen Odegaard take on a new role this season. The skipper, especially away from home, has been tasked with playing deeper, and he produced some superb performances in a more metronomic function.
His display against Wolves was his best in December, and he also produced some wonderful sequences in the defeat to West Ham.
Odegaard hasn't been anywhere near as consistently brilliant as he was last term, but December certainly wasn't a bad month for him.
2. Gabriel Jesus (Average rating - 7.0)
This might come as a surprise given the recent discourse around Jesus. Plenty have criticised the Brazilian for his profligacy in front of goal, and some of those complaints are certainly justified.
Jesus scored just twice in December and notched an assist against Luton in what was undoubtedly his best performance of the month. Despite his issues in front of goal, the Brazilian continues to contribute in a myriad of ways.
In the wins over Wolves and Brighton, Jesus' ability to combine in and around the box proved crucial in terms of chance creation.
1. Declan Rice (Average rating - 7.14)
Rice slander has been weirdly rife to close out the year, and yes, the £105m midfielder produced two of his poorest displays of the season to end 2023. However, much of the criticism aimed at Rice has been misplaced.
His slow end to the year shouldn't take away from just how excellent he was before Christmas. Rice was the hero at Kenilworth Road as he scored a last minute winner, and his showing at Anfield was utterly imperious.
Arteta's security blanket may not be exempt from sub-par displays, but the England international is the glue of this measured, controlled, but less inspiring Arsenal side.