Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal are embarking on a "decisive time" as they look to secure a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with victory against Partizan Belgrade on Wednesday night and stay one step ahead in the race for domestic glory.
After negotiating what he hopes will be a safe passage out of Group H against the struggling Serbians, Wenger takes his men up to Manchester United for next Monday night's Barclays Premier League top of the table encounter, while champions Chelsea face both teams either side of Christmas.
"December will be a very important month for us and for everybody," said Wenger. "When you look at the fixtures, it looks like it is a decisive time for everybody at the same moment in this league. The fixtures of Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal are all very big in December."
The Gunners should have already been in the last 16, after a 100% record from their opening three Group H games - scoring 14 goals.
However, successive away defeats at Shakhtar Donetsk and Braga means they must beat Belgrade, who have lost all their five matches, to secure at worst second spot.
Finishing top would require an unlikely victory for Braga in Donetsk, meaning Arsenal are therefore set for a clash with one of the seeds in the knockout rounds.
Wenger, though, is not concerned.
"If you want to win it, you have to play against these big teams," the Arsenal manager said.
"First of all, it is not a guarantee that we play Barcelona or Bayern in the next round - there are some other teams we can play and what happens, happens.
"What is important is not to focus on the teams we might play, we first have to be very pragmatic and qualify first. We will see then who we get."
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