Arsene Wenger's side currently trail fourth-placed north London rivals Tottenham by four points with 12 games of the Premier League remaining, with both sides winning on Saturday.
The two teams meet on March 3 and former the Everton midfielder is aware that the clash at White Hart Lane could be crucial in determining who will finish in the top four.
|4/1||Arsenal are 4/1 with BetVictor to be the Premier League's top London club this season
"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 harder 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 observed.
"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 knockout football, as they face first Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup before welcoming German giants Bayern Munich to the Emirates Stadium on February 19.