Mikel Arteta has conceded Arsenal will be "in big trouble" if they fail to transform their fortunes through a season-defining festive schedule.
The Gunners crashed out of the Carabao Cup 4-1 to Manchester City on Tuesday as Arteta's side slipped to a sixth defeat in 11 in all competitions.
London rivals Chelsea are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day - live on Sky Sports - before the Gunners see in the New Year with trips to Brighton and West Brom, and Arteta admits it is a make-or-break run of games.
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"We have to turn it around, there is no question," he told Sky Sports. "If we don't, we are in big trouble, so this is the moment that is going to decide our season.
"We do [have the tools to turn things around] because I see how much the players try and what they are trying to do, but at the moment a lot of strange things are happening in every game and that makes things really difficult."
Arsenal fell behind to City in farcical circumstances as Gabriel Jesus punished non-existent defending to head the holders into the lead with barely two minutes on the clock.
Alexandre Lacazette equalised just after the half-hour mark with a header of his own, but Arsenal's hopes evaporated on 54 minutes when goalkeeper Alex Runarsson spilled Riyad Mahrez's free-kick into his own net.
From there on, City were merciless, as goals from Phil Foden and Aymeric Laporte wrapped up a comprehensive victory that leaves Pep Guardiola's side two wins away from a fourth consecutive Carabao Cup triumph.
"It's a disappointing night," Arteta said. "We started the game and conceded after two minutes, a really soft goal. After that, in the moment we are in, and against this opponent, it is difficult.
"We got back in the game, started to grow and scored a really good goal and we had a spell of 25 minutes where we were the better team.
"After that, we conceded the second goal the way we did and against this level of opponent, they punish you and make life really difficult.
"This is a really hard one to take when you consider how the game went. The reaction the team had against this level of opponent was good, but when you give the goals we gave away, it makes the game impossible."
Asked for his thoughts on Runarsson's error, the Gunners boss added: "He hasn't played a lot of games for us, he's adapting to the league and this is it. We all make mistakes; we have to support him.
"I thought about starting Bernd Leno, but he has played a lot of minutes and needed some rest. We want to give opportunities to other players; Alex has done well in the other games and these things happen in football."
Pep: Arteta is an incredible manager
It's been just over a year since Arteta left the Manchester City coaching set-up to take the reins at the Emirates but defeat to his former employers has only heightened the mounting pressure on his position.
Speaking after the game, however, City boss Guardiola issued a public backing of Arteta, insisting Arsenal would be making a "big mistake" if they decide to sack his former assistant.
"They will do a huge, big mistake," Guardiola told the BBC. "I'm pretty sure they are going to trust him. I understand for the analysts, analyse the results.
"But I was with him many years and I know his incredible quality as a human being and especially as a manager, how he is involved in everything. It's just a question of time and he will do well.
"I'm not on the board. For me they will do a big mistake if they are thinking. They give him the confidence, they won two titles when for a long time ago it didn't happen at this club.
"In this pandemic situation, with injury problems they have and the games they played always they played good. But unfortunately these games is our job and it depends on the results. But football changes in one week so quick.
"I can speak about my experience alongside him, one of the most incredible successful teams in English history we had and he was part of this success and it would not be possible without him, and to create something like this you need
time like I had in my first season."
'Arsenal have stood still for a decade'
Kevin Campbell believes Arsenal are in desperate need of a player clear-out and the origins of their present decline pre-date Mikel Arteta's arrival as manager.
Ex-Gunners striker Campbell, who played for Arsenal between 1988 and 1995, thinks the route to curing the club's ills lies in overhauling the playing squad.
"They have to get this addressed and I think Mikel Arteta, whether it is him or somebody else, there has to be a turnover of players, unfortunately," Campbell said on The Football Show.
"When fans from other teams are actually looking at Arsenal's team and saying 'right you need a centre half, you need a centre midfielder', and for 10 years it never gets addressed and Arteta comes in, an inexperienced manager, and he tries to address it from day one or from one window, then you know you are in problems."
While Campbell stopped short of absolving Arteta responsibility for the team's current struggles, the 50-year-old is convinced the club have stagnated in the past decade.
"These problems, whether there are difficult players in the dressing room, whether there is difficulty moving players on, this obviously doesn't just start at one spot it's the period of 10 years," Campbell added.
"Arsenal have been qualifying for the Champions League before, but the league wasn't as strong. Now the league is stronger, Arsenal can't qualify for the Champions League and are declining fast.
"The Arsenal that left Highbury and came to the Emirates, the fanbase was told a dream but sold down the river because they were told that the club would be competing at the top table for the biggest trophies.
"The club has more than stood still for over 10 years."
Onuoha: Arsenal should stick with Arteta
Former Premier League defender Nedum Onuoha warned Arsenal would be better off persisting with Mikel Arteta, rather than looking for a short-term fix with another manager.
Arteta has come in for increasing pressure with Arsenal languishing just four points above the relegation zone heading into what could be a defining Christmas period for the club.
But Onuoha, the former Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers defender, thinks Arteta should be given time to turn Arsenal's fortunes around.
"There's a lot to be said, I believe, as well for continuity. If Arteta was brought in with a certain mindset and certain ideas which were going to be long-term ideas for the club, then you would have to give him time and maybe it's going to be a case of the player turnover which would be far bigger and more important for the club than just the manager himself," Onuoha told The Football Show.
"It will be interesting to see what they do because a new manager coming in might not necessarily fix all the problems that have existed for a long time from what we appear to be seeing.
"I think you stick with Arteta and then see what this next transfer window brings and see if you can actually bring an identity to the club which is going to be one which will finds success for them in the long-term, as opposed to short-term fixes whereby you do win an FA Cup but maybe finish mid-table in the league."
Who else is out there for Arsenal?
Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:
"Arteta's got money in the bank because he won the FA Cup and he's had some brilliant form in cup competitions.
"People are saying Arteta is going to lose his job; losing 4-1 at home is not ideal. The way they set up, I thought they might be good but, all of a sudden, things have gone, and they are devoid of confidence.
"Of course you could go and sack the manager, but the bigger problem is that there's a group of players there and there's only three or four that if you were the manager coming in, you'd say I could trust those players.
"That will be the problem with this team. Too many of them, no matter what you do, will let you down. It's a team full of kidders right now and I feel sorry for the young players. Arsenal have got to stick with the manager and give him time to get out a lot of the players that aren't good enough.
"I keep hearing about dressing-room unrest and someone in the dressing room that's giving information. If you've got that, you've got major problems.
"You've got no chance. You've got to get rid of those players as quickly as possible and it is not easy to do. If you get rid of the manager, who comes in? Who's out there?"
'Are Arteta's issues inherited?'
Sky Sports' Micah Richards:
"Is it fair to say he's inherited this problem? He's been in management a year and he's won an FA Cup which has papered over the cracks a little bit.
"I still have some belief and faith in Arteta because I've seen him on the training ground when he was at Manchester City and I know he's got something.
"I don't know if he's a better coach or a better manager, but only time will tell. It's difficult and disheartening to see him like that but I don't know if I can pin the blame solely on Arteta."