We face a testing five games in seven days, four away from home, starting with a trip to Manchester City on December 23 through to our FA Cup third round tie at Southampton on January 4.
It is widely accepted that the squad wasn't strong enough to cope this time last season and we won four points from a possible 12, the start of a spell of five from 24 in the Premiership.
Full-back Steve said: "The Christmas period tells a big story and we look in better shape than we were last year with regards to injury.
"We've quite a fit squad and that's what you need going into such a busy period.
"I would be nice to be in the top six, we're just outside it. One or two bad results and it can go the other way. We're up there but there's a small difference."
Stephen Carr reckons we're in better shape this season to cope with the demands of the crucial Christmas and New Year period.