By Chris Harris

Cesc Fabregas has urged his team-mates to shut out the critics and be strong as they try to wrestle back the initiative in the title race.

Sunday's numbing 3-1 defeat against Manchester United has left Arsenal four points behind their conquerors and five adrift of Chelsea - having played a game more than the leaders. That gap could be eight points by the time Fabregas and company visit Stamford Bridge next weekend.

Arsenal were top of the Premier League just 12 days ago after completing a quick-fire double over Bolton and, inevitably, their title prospects have now been written off in some quarters. But Arsène Wenger's side have already bridged an 11-point deficit this season and Fabregas refuses to let his head drop in the wake of Sunday's result.

"I think we have to be positive," said the Spaniard. "It is very easy to say we lost to Man United and let our heads go down. We have to be strong, be together more than ever and do our best until the end of the season.

"United had their chances to score even more goals and they also missed [them]. They were the better team and that’s it. They competed better than us.

"With all my respect, I really don’t care what people think about us. It's about what we believe up until the end of the season. People are not going to play for us and it is up to us to show what we can do.

"People watch the football and enjoy it but we must do our talking on the pitch."

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1 Feb 2010