Mikel Arteta has conceded Arsenal are unlikely to win the Premier League title this season, as they head into the festive period 12 points behind leaders Manchester City.
The Gunners' eight-game unbeaten run was brought to a halt on Sunday when they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against City at the Etihad Stadium.
But Arsenal will be hoping to keep pace with Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the race for a Champions League berth, when they travel to Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
Arteta knows Arsenal face a tough challenge to overhaul City's lead at the top of the table but for now he is focused on collecting maximum points from a run of four games in 12 days, starting at Villa Park this evening.
"I think we need to be realistic," Arteta told Arsenal Player. "It will be really tough to [make up] 12 points on Man City from here until the end of the season because they haven't dropped many points until now. But you never know in football. We can only go game by game and try to put pressure on them.
"The main thing is to focus on the football. We know that if we get through this period and get all the points then we will have a really good chance to be fighting for something at the end of the season. We know how important that is for the club."
Meanwhile, Arteta says he is relishing the prospect of playing Serie A giants AC Milan in the last-16 of the Champions League.
"I smiled when the draw was made because I think it's a really good game to play," the Spaniard added.
"It makes it more exciting to play a team like Milan. Any team at this stage of the Champions League is going to be tough, even if people think you are favourites. I like playing against teams like this and we've got a good chance, so let's play.
"All the boys feel the same. If we have to play them, so be it, and let's try to win. This is exactly why I came to Arsenal. In your career you want to have moments like this.
"You don't face them every day so we have to take this special opportunity."