It's been a disappointing campaign for Mikel Arteta's Arsenal so far, even his most loyal supporters would struggle to make a case that says otherwise.
The club's lowly league position of 10th has been a huge cause for concern, having lost 11 of their 27 fixtures so far, the Gunners' hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League via the traditional route are diminishing at a rapid pace.
The Europa League offers the north London giants a route back into the big-time and presents the Spanish boss with an opportunity to turn what has been a dismal campaign so far into a successful one. In order to make the last eight, Arsenal will have to overcome Olympiacos, their conquerors of last season who squeezed through in dramatic fashion.
Regardless of the pressure that is clearly on Mikel Arteta to deliver in Europe, ahead of the first-leg versus the Greeks, the 38-year-old has been speaking positively about the direction in which his team are travelling.
Last year, the Arsenal boss tested positive for the coronavirus following the club's meeting with Olympiacos and shortly afterwards, football was shut down. When asked what these past 12 months have been like, here is what Arteta had to say:
“I could never [have] imagined when I got tested and had the symptoms, all of the consequences that this virus was going to have on all of us."
“Having my first job, to do that and after being in the job for only three months in normal conditions, to start to have a completely different context and framework to work in has been really challenging but, at the same time, it has made us, as a club, much stronger.
“We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with our fans, with our staff and that is going to pay some big tribute in the future I think when everything comes back to normality and we are able to work the way we needed to work with some stability.
“I think this project is going to go ‘bang’ and this is where we are. Sometimes it is difficult to see the moment now, but I’m sure where we are going."
While Arteta seems confident his side are making progress, sections of the club's fanbase would argue the opposite and have been left frustrated by the inconsistency shown throughout the campaign.
There have undoubtedly been some positive signs since Christmas, although the results have not always reflected that, but given all of the above, is the boss right to be so convinced about their direction of travel?
Arteta will have seen things on the training ground and behind the scenes that have contributed to his positive outlook. While the possibility of ending the season with European glory remains, the Arsenal fans, for now, will just have to trust him.