Cesc Fabregas accepts it is ''not realistic'' for Arsenal to think about winning the Premier League this season - but maintains his team can force themselves back into the top four.
Club captain Fabregas suffered knee ligament damage after a challenge with Liverpool's Xabi Alonso in the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium on December 21 and has had to watch as his side slipped out of title contention.
While Arsenal may now be unbeaten in 14 games after the midweek Champions League win over Roma, their inability to convert chances has proved costly in terms of dropped points and three successive goalless draws has seen the gap open to a 17-point advantage held by champions Manchester United.
Nevertheless, Fabregas - who has targeted the start of April for a return from a serious knee injury - insists Arsenal have what it takes to re-establish themselves in the Champions League places.
''It is not realistic to look at the league title now. You can never say never of course, but at the moment we would not be intelligent to be looking right to the top of the league,'' the Spaniard said. ''To be intelligent now is to go game by game and think about who is directly in front of us.
''Now we have to make sure we put a run of wins together and don't lose more points.
''Chelsea and Aston Villa will drop points, of that I am sure, and that is why we need to be ready to capitalise at the right time - just as Manchester United have waited half a season for Liverpool to lose some points and taken advantage of it.
''We need to be sure that we take the chances we will get to go above them because it is really important for next season.''
Arsenal have played in Europe's elite club competition for more than a decade, reaching the final in 2006 and Fabregas maintains everyone is focused on achieving the goal of successful qualification once again.
''We always take things seriously, but now more than ever,'' he said. ''In 2005/06 we were really close to dropping out of the Champions League places and had to wait until the last game of the season and I am telling you it is not easy.
''Nobody wants to see Arsenal outside the top four, so we need to stick together. We want to survive this and we will.''