LONDON (AFP) - Arsenal's hopes of ending their six-year trophy drought could be determined in less than a week, starting with their final Champions League group H match against makeweights Partizan Belgrade at the Emirates Stadium here on Wednesday.
The Gunners, beaten in their last two European matches, must defeat a Partizan side that have lost all five of their group fixtures if they are to be certain of a place in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Otherwise Arsenal, three points behind leaders Shaktar Donetsk and level with Sporting Braga, could miss out if the result of the tie between their two rivals in Ukraine on Wednesday goes against them.
Back on the home front, Premier League leaders Arsenal face fellow English giants Manchester United, just a point behind, at Old Trafford on Monday.
Win both those games and Arsenal can look forward to a season of significant achievement; lose both and Gunners manager Arsene Wenger's repeated promises of a bright future for his side will start to sound decidedly hollow.
Arsenal and France full-back Bacary Sagna insists the side are well aware of the need to turn potential into performance.
"We do not want the season to be over at the end of December," said Sagna.
"It's about time we won the big games. Against Chelsea we dropped points, at home we have dropped so many points. At United, we want to play our game and win.
"Going top of the (Premier) League was great on Saturday. But we need to be more focused. We have to keep moving forward."
Arsenal have experienced defensive problems this season be it injury to centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, out since September and not expected back until the new year at the earliest, or uncertainty as to whether either Manuel Almunia or Lukasz Fabianski is their best goalkeeper.
But the absence of injured playmaker Cesc Fabregas has not proved as damaging as first feared, with Frenchman Samir Nasri shining in the Spanish star's absence.
Nasri scored both goals in Arsenal's 2-1 win over Fulham last weekend, the second a sublime combination of slick footwork and balletic balance.
"Sami is now showing his best and has more to show," said Sagna. "We only beat Fulham because of him. He is a really good guy and fits in well with everyone on the pitch."
The 23-year-old Nasri added: "Before I felt too much pressure to score, I wanted it too much maybe. Now I don't worry as much. I'm more at ease in the game and I'm not just looking for goals, I'm looking to work for the team.
"I think I'm more mature in my football. I think more with my head."
When Arsenal and Partizan met in Belgrade, the Gunners won 3-1 in a match where home defender Marko Jovanovic was sent-off early in the second half.
Partizan's second appearance among Europe's elite has been disappointing and in stark contrast to their domestic form where they have won eight straight games to currently top Serbia's Superliga.
|Arsenal still gunning for glory - Gibbs|
|Quinteros named Ecuador coach|
|Sturridge eager to prove fitness|
|Blanc: ´We were expecting better´|
|Hecking proud of Wolfsburg|
|Boateng urges Bayern to learn from Wolfsburg thrashing|
|Sporting Braga 1 Moreirense 0: Santos the hero for hosts|
|Cordoba complete triple swoop, Levante bring in two|
|Partick Thistle 0 St Mirren 1: Debutant Dayton the hero|
|Rayo Vallecano 1 Deportivo La Coruna 2: Borges debut double downs hosts|
|Bournemouth 2 Watford 0: Championship leaders stroll to success|
|Dordrecht 0 Heerenveen 0: Visitors´ woes compounded by Sinkgraven sale|
|Paris Saint-Germain 1 Rennes 0: Lavezzi goal enough for champions|
|Palace confirm Souare capture|
|Barcelona v Villarreal: Xavi looking to put high-flyers in their place|
|Simeone denies gesture towards referee|
|Wolfsburg 4 Bayern Munich 1: Dost and De Bruyne at the double as hosts honour Malanda|
|Ben Arfa ineligible to play for Nice|
|Ginola calls time on FIFA presidency bid|
|Cork seals Swansea switch|
|Arsenal v Aston Villa: Wenger lauds team spirit|
|Strootman out for longer than expected|
|Southampton v Swansea City: Monk eager for return to form|
|Injury blow for Southampton striker Long|
|Montella confirms Cuadrado will join Chelsea|
|Bordeaux bring in Chantome from PSG|
|Huth suspended for two matches over tweets|
|Udinese v Juventus: Pirlo not taking Serie A lead for granted|
|Carlisle to return home|
|Prince Ali outlines campaign after submitting FIFA president bid|
|Costa must improve behaviour - Pellegrini|
|Olic seals Hamburg return|
|FIFPro planning legal action to protect unpaid players|
|Burnley rule out Liverpool move for Ings|
|Pochettino fumes at Tottenham schedule|
|Cork set for Swansea switch|
|Hull left in the cold by local gas board|
|Ancelotti: No repeat of Ronaldo indiscretion|
|Murray signs Palace extension|
|Garcia: Roma will sign a replacement for Destro|
|Sassuolo v Inter: Ranocchia hopes turning point has come|
|Congo v Democratic Republic of Congo: Neighbours clash in AFCON quarter-final|
|Fletcher in West Ham talks|
|Tunisia v Equatorial Guinea: Favourites wary of hosts|
|Carrick to miss four weeks|
|Figo submits bid for FIFA presidency|
|Costa hit with three-match ban|
|Villa confirm Sinclair loan|
|Hull agree fee for N´Doye|
|Milan clubs should merge, says agent Raiola|
|Redknapp brands Fer speculation ´absolute rubbish´|
|Destro completes Milan move|
|Iraq 2 UAE 3: Khalil´s brace sees off Iraqis|
|Ward-Prowse signs Southampton deal|
|Mandanda: Marseille will turn it around|
|Fuchs backs Schalke goalkeeper Giefer to shine|
|Wenger unlikely to risk Sanchez, could start Gabriel|
|Newcastle would need ´ridiculous´ bid to sell Sissoko|
|Kramer sure of sustained Champions League challenge|
|Sturridge would have steered Liverpool to Wembley - Rodgers|
|South Korea claim underdog status|
|We can handle the pressure, says Postecoglou|
|Cheyrou joins Toronto|
|AFC boss rejects Australia expulsion claims|
|Australia v South Korea: Socceroos eyeing maiden Asian Cup|
|Wolfsburg plan Malanda tribute|
|Blanc: Ibrahimovic, Cavani need to improve partnership|
|NBA´s Kings invest in Sacramento Republic|
|Djukic slams Ronaldo as ´ugly and conceited´|
|Marcelino hails Villarreal´s historic achievement|
|Destro: I want to show Milan are great|
|Copa del Rey Review: Aduriz breaks drought to send Bilbao through|
|Blaszczykowski to miss Leverkusen clash|
|Villarreal swoop for Bailly|
|CAF to consider alternatives to drawing lots|
|Ginola ´not giving up´ on FIFA presidency bid|
|Eto´o backs Sampdoria´s European dream|
|Chelsea v Manchester City: Costa out and Fabregas doubtful for title showdown|
|Sunderland v Burnley: Poyet calls for change in mentality|
|Serie A Preview: Crisis clubs meet as Parma head to Milan|
|West Brom v Tottenham: Pulis excited by McManaman arrival|
|Ginola campaign cancels crowdfunding page|
|Stoke City v QPR: Hughes hopeful of Diouf boost|
|Manchester United v Leicester City: Pearson has no time for fond memories|
|Thai consortium completes Wednesday purchase|
|Wigan exodus continues as Ramos joins Levante|
|Crystal Palace v Everton: Martinez hoping to reap Qatar training rewards|
|Liverpool v West Ham: Allardyce backs Carroll to shine on Anfield return|
|Strootman injury ´nothing serious´|
|Pearson backs Kramaric to adapt quickly|
|Hull City v Newcastle United: Carver calls for repeat KC Stadium rout|
|Rodgers not expecting immediate Sturridge impact|
|Palace land free agent Ameobi|
|Guinea progress past Mali in drawing of lots|
|Strootman requires surgery|
|Mathieu reveals details of Luis Enrique-Messi bust-up|
|New Inter signing Brozovic wants to be the next Frank Lampard|
|Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund: Visitors aim for fresh start|
|Eibar v Atletico Madrid: Capa up for a fight|
|Whelan and Crouch sign new Stoke deals|
|Mutch joins Palace from QPR|
|Eriksen delighted by League Cup double|
|Real Madrid v Real Sociedad: Moyes´ men out for rare Real double|
|Nolan impressed by Carroll attitude|
|Wenger: Gabriel will adapt to English football|
|Destro says yes to Milan move|
|Allardyce not expecting Sakho ban|
|Ribery sidelined for three Bayern Munich matches|
|Cahill refuses to rule out retirement after Asian Cup final|
|Pogba to leave Juve by end of next season - Agent|
|Martinez not planning Eto´o replacement|
|Blatter formally submits bid to remain FIFA president|
|Puncheon predicts ´great times´ for Palace|
|Donadoni has no plans to leave Parma and criticises Cassano|
|Mangala: My first season at City could have been better|
|UAE v Iraq: Rare podium finish on offer|
|Ryan spurred on by Australia´s 2011 heartbreak|
|Montella will not sell Cuadrado cheap|
|Mali, Guinea furious with tie-breaking procedure|
|Luis Enrique defends Neymar´s behaviour|
|Gabi: Referee lacked personality|
|Chile 3 USA 2: Gonzalez´s brace extends Americans´ pain|
|Franjic cleared of serious injury|
|Our progression was deserved - Pochettino|