Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Chelsea could struggle to regain momentum in the Premier League title race after Tottenham ended their 13-match winning run on Wednesday.
The leaders slipped to their first league defeat since September as two Dele Alli headers lifted Tottenham to third place and gave fresh hope to the rest of the chasing pack.
Wenger’s Invincible-era side themselves stuttered after Manchester United ended their 49-game unbeaten sequence in October 2004 – the start of a run that yielded just six points from six fixtures.
“It looks like Chelsea are still quite comfortable but when you’re interrupted in a series of wins, it always raises hope for others. It means you have to restart again,” he said.
“I think it’s an open league. The second part of the championship starts now. We know that January until May is the moment of truth for everybody. Who will come out of this race on top? It’s very difficult to predict at the moment.”
Their north London neighbours’ midweek success and Arsenal’s own 3-3 draw Bournemouth on Tuesday has seen the Gunners slip to fifth, eight points behind Antonio Conte’s Chelsea.
Striker Olivier Giroud has drawn criticism for an indulgent celebration of his injury-time equaliser when valuable seconds remained, and Wenger conceded he would have preferred a quicker resumption.
“I understand both sides, because at 3-0 down in the head of the players the game is lost, but you still want the guys to take the ball and put it in the middle of the pitch,” he added.
Arsenal sign non-league defender – any more January signings?
Arsenal have beaten Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday to the signing of 20-year-old left-back Cohen Bramall of non-league outfit Hednesford Town for a fee believed to be £40,000.
Wenger insists he will not be adding further to his squad in the January transfer window, however, despite the unavailability of midfield trio Mohamed Elneny, at the Africa Cup of Nations, Francis Coquelin, who has a hamstring injury, and long-term absentee Santi Cazorla.
Striker Danny Welbeck could be back on the bench for Saturday’s FA Cup third-round trip to Preston North End.