Gilberto tells Arsenal their Champions' League place is in danger

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The Independent Football

Gilberto Silva, the Arsenal captain, is warning that his men cannot slip up against Charlton tonight if they want to stay on course for a Champions' League place.

The Gunners have dropped down from third spot to fifth after their shock 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United on Saturday - when victories for Liverpool and Bolton saw them leapfrog the north Londoners.

Portsmouth and Tottenham are also vying for a top-four spot - leaving stand-in captain Gilberto in no doubt about how costly it could be to have another off-day against one of the Premiership's lesser lights.

Charlton visit the Emirates Stadium after a heartening weekend victory at home to Aston Villa under new manager Alan Pardew.

Gilberto said: " It is a very important game for us. We cannot afford to drop points because we need to get into a better position."

There appears to be little leeway for Arsenal if they are to avoid under-achievement this season - a point not lost on the Brazilian midfielder. "In the situation we are in, every game is very important to us - and we cannot afford to lose games like we did on Saturday," he said. "If we are not 100 per cent and help each other we will find it hard."

Gilberto is well aware of the tussle evolving below the top two Manchester United and Chelsea. "At the moment it is very competitive for the Champions' League places," he added. "It is difficult because we are very close with Bolton, Liverpool and Portsmouth. It will be a fight - but we need to do the best we can."

The Gunners have an early opportunity to put their weekend disappointment behind them - but Gilberto is unsure whether he is pleased or not about that. "I don't know if it is good or bad to have another game so soon, but we have no time to complain about the number of games; we just have to carry on, move on and do our best."

Arsenal continue to be beset by injuries, with regular captain Thierry Henry still among nine first-teamers on the sidelines. Gilberto is doing his best to ensure there are no more slip-ups on his watch, though.

"It's been hard for us, because we have a lot of injured players," he added. "We've tried to do our best without them. We'll see what we can do."

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