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The Gunners' Spanish midfielder has stressed the importance of picking up points in the coming months if the club are to ensure Champions League qualification for next season

Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta insists the Gunners will fight to snatch a place in next season's Champions League.

The Gunners currently trail fourth-placed north London rivals Tottenham by four points with 12 games remaining, with both sides emerging victorious from tricky encounters this weekend.

The sides meet on March 3, and former Everton midfielder Arteta is aware that the clash at White Hart Lane could be crucial in determining who will finish in the top four.

"The Spurs game will be a big derby", Arteta told the club's official website, "This one is at their place and it could be decisive - but we believe we have the quality to be where we deserve to be and we will fight until the end to get there.

"Qualification is massive for us, we can't be out of the Champions League because it is the best competition."

Arteta also believes that the rise of clubs like Spurs and Manchester City has made it much more difficult for teams to finish in the top four.

"I think that, 10 seasons ago, it was not as difficult to get into the top four as it is now," he added.

"At the moment, there are six or seven teams who can get there - and that says a lot about the improvement of English football."

The Gunners' immediate attention must now turn to knock-out football, as they face first Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, before welcoming German giants Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium on February 19.

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