Fabregas' top-four aim

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The Independent Football

With Arsenal 17 points behind leaders Manchester United in the Premier League with 12 games left, Cesc Fabregas's assertion that it is "not realistic" for the Gunners to win the title was a statement of the bleeding obvious. But the Spanish midfielder, who is hoping to return in April from a long-term knee injury, insisted a Champions League place is attainable. Arsenal, in fifth, are six points off that pace.

"At the moment we would not be intelligent to be looking right to the top of the league," he said. "Now we have to make sure we put a run of wins together and don't lose more points.

"Chelsea and Aston Villa [in third and fourth] will drop points, of that I am sure, and that is why we need to be ready to capitalise at the right time. We need to be sure that we take the chances we will get because it is really important for next season."

Arsenal have played in Europe's top club competition every year for more than a decade, which has played a part in a success story that has extended well beyond the pitch. The latest positive chapter came yesterday with news that Arsenal's pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of November 2008 had risen £4.5m to £24.5m.

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