Andy Cole
Cole hails Di Maria arrival. REUTERS

Andy Coles believes that Manchester United will put in a top class performance to save their season as soon as January hits, as the club push their way back to the top of the Premier League table.

United were dealt a possibly decisive favour in the league last night, as Chelsea defeated title leaders Manchester City to take the Red Devils to within two points of their cross town rivals.

And Cole, who made nearly 200 appearances for United and was a member of the 1999 treble winning side, believes that the club will hit their strides, like always, over the turn of the new year.

"I always look at December and January as being key months in the season," he told the official United website.

"Easter time is always a period I remember as being a huge part of the campaign as well but, if you can get the right results in December and January, it sets you up for the rest of the season.

"It is important to be in good form at the right time and the time to do that is always in the second half of the campaign. There's no point running away with it now. Just look at what happened to Newcastle in 1995/96 - they were 12 points ahead when we went there and, after our victory, we went on a great run, whereas they pretty much capitulated after that.

"I don't know why we've always done well in the second half of the season. I think it's just ingrained in the DNA of the players. They know they have to deliver and that when the New Year comes round, it is time to really focus, get your heads down and kick on."

United have had a particularly tough week, despite defeating Wolves 4-1 at the weekend; the side were dismissed from the Champions League final 16 by Swiss side FC Basel, and have lost Nemanja Vidic for the season to injury, as well as Darren Fletcher to illness.

But the club are famous for making comebacks in the new year, and with Manchester City facing Arsenal this weekend, if the Citizens are to fail against the Gunners like they did against Chelsea, United will have a real chance to completely turn around a season that looked dashed after losing 6-1 to the current leaders in October.