Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has claimed that the way Arsene Wenger handles the January transfer window will define the side's season as they look like challenging for the title for the first time in a number of years.

Currently sitting at the top of the table the Gunners suffered just their second loss of the campaign to Manchester United at the weekend. Despite the setback the side are still confident they will be in the race for silverware come May but a lack of depth was apparent during the match with Wenger having out-of-form striker Nicklas Bendtner as his only real game-changinig option.

Bendtner has been disappointing for the club this season, as many expected after his loan spell in Juventus in which he failed to score once for the side, and Parlour believes that if Wenger can land a centre-forward in January he will finish the season strongly.

"I think January is going to be very important for a lot of clubs including Arsenal," Parlour told Sky Sports. "I look at the centre forward position and I think bringing Nicklas Bendtner off the bench is not the option they really want.

"So Arsene Wenger will look at that in January to try and strengthen it.

"The main thing for me is being in the thick of it come March because that's when the pressure really kicks in and every point is so vital.

"Over the past couple of years they haven't been involved by March so I'm hoping they can hang on in there and keep putting these good performances in."

Arsenal's mood this season has been far more positive than in previous campaigns with the side hoping to break a trophyless spell that has lasted nearly a decade.

Wenger waited until the last minute to appease fans in the summer window by signing Mesut Ozil on deadline day and smashing the clubs' transfer record in the process.

There is hope that this new spending attitude will continue in January and while Parlour thinks that he now believes his side are capable of challenging for the title, he insists that Arsenal need to get ahead of their Premier League rivals as soon as the winter window opens.

He explained: "If you're Arsene Wenger then you always go into it thinking you've got a squad that's good enough to challenge for the title and it's going very well.

"But I think January is going to be very important. Whoever goes out and buys the players that can give everyone a lift come the business part of the season could find that that'll be enough."