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.
|Chelsea 1 Norwich City 1 (aet, 5-3 pens): Hazard and Caballero seal Blues progression|
|No generosity from Neymar as Cavani waits to make PSG history|
|Neymar sets Ligue 1 landmark with staggering individual display|
|Espanyol 1 Barcelona 0: Melendo ends unbeaten run|
|Paris Saint-Germain 8 Dijon 0: Neymar hits four as Cavani levels Ibrahimovic record|
|Atletico fan in ´serious condition´ after being stabbed before Sevilla game|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Sevilla 2: Montella´s men stage dramatic first-leg comeback|
|Lukaku will score 30 goals for Man Utd this season, predicts Yorke|
|Liverpool loan Grujic to Cardiff|
|Mbappe: More to come from Neymar & Cavani partnership|
|Messi the greatest ever despite no World Cup win, insists Di Maria|
|Villa determined to earn place in Spain´s World Cup squad|
|Walcott swaps Arsenal for Everton|
|You even learn from Guardiola at home - Otamendi lauds Pep impact|
|Otamendi pens Man City deal to 2022|
|Neymar leads tributes to retiring Ronaldinho|
|Ronaldo must focus on playing - Zidane sidesteps exit talk|
|Zidane still an idol for James despite ´sad´ Madrid exit|
|Stoger will stay at Dortmund if ´everything fits´|
|Bordeaux´s Malcom facing disciplinary action over social media video|
|Ronaldinho retires – The greatest Brazilians to play for Barcelona|
|Athletic reward Williams with contract until 2025|
|Jones taking unlikely inspiration from City in United´s title pursuit|
|Moyes unaware of Chelsea interest in Carroll|
|Verdi wants Bologna stay amid Napoli links|
|Ronaldinho retires – A shining light of Brazil´s 2002 World Cup-winning team|
|Ronaldinho retires – a World Cup and Ballon d´Or among Brazil great´s prizes|
|World Cup glory and Bernabeu magic - Ronaldinho´s best moments for Barca and Brazil|
|Ligue 1 Review: Balotelli at the double as Payet shines and Malcom toils|
|Pato still dreaming of World Cup selection|
|FA Cup Review: Iheanacho makes VAR history, kit confusion reigns|
|2016-17 UEFA Study: PSG, Man City drive record-breaking spending|
|Conte packing in homework as Chelsea games stack up|
|2016-17 UEFA Study: Manchester United record highest revenue but largest debt|
|2016-17 UEFA Study: The headlines in transfers, wages and revenues|
|Iheanacho scores English football´s first VAR goal|
|Materazzi not surprised by Coutinho transfer fee|
|Ronaldinho retires - Brazil and Barca great plans 2018 farewell|
|Koziello swaps Nice for Cologne|
|Simeone ready to unleash Costa and Vitolo alongside Griezmann|
|Lambert ´never thought´ he would return to Premier League|
|Wenger ´very aggressive´ towards referee Dean, says FA report|
|Reported Arsenal target Malcom starts for Bordeaux vs Caen|
|Valverde not making big deal of Dembele´s latest Barca blow|
|Arsenal will have a ´hard time´ signing Malcom|
|Ronaldo and Madrid nominated for Laureus awards|
|Nantes´ Diego Carlos brands Chapron clash ´historic´|
|This is not important - Conte unconcerned if substitutions upset Hazard|
|Conte ´doesn´t think´ Chelsea have pursued Sanchez|
|Emery hints at Neymar return against Dijon|
|Mkhitaryan key to United-Sanchez deal, claims Raiola|
|Tevez: CSL spell was a holiday|
|Mignolet considering Liverpool future|
|Fred waiting for Guardiola call amid Man City speculation|
|Inter confident but patient over Rafinha|
|Giggs had counselling after Old Trafford exit|
|Neville: Mourinho would happily swap Mkhitaryan for Sanchez|
|Man United becoming Pogba´s team – Mourinho|
|Can ´talking with everyone´ but hints at Liverpool stay|