18 months into a very weird managerial tenure, Mikel Arteta is within touching distance of returning Arsenal to the Champions League.
Get one over Villarreal tomorrow, spank Manchester United in Gdansk on 26 May and it’s happy days at the Emirates.
He can spend the summer drinking margaritas on the beach (if he can get to one), a magic UEFA money tree will flourish at London Colney (next to the ones that Hector has planted) and we can all look forward to humming Zadok the Priest while Bayern Munich produce a masterclass at the carpet in late September.
Fail to win the Europa League and we’ll have plumbed new depths of mediocrity under the Kroenke regime, our summer transfer plans will involve, at best, magic beans and Project ‘Trust the Process’ will be in tatters.
It goes without saying that it’s an important month/game/competition for the club. But just to be sure, Arteta was asked just ‘how big’ it is in his pre-game press conference. Repeatedly.
“It’s a massive game for everybody but in particular for the club because we are here representing a football club and our fans,” he said with the kind of blandness the question deserved.
“What we want to do is to do it in the best way by winning trophies. If we win tomorrow, we will be much closer to getting another trophy. This is the only aim and the purpose of us being here.”
Pressed on whether the match is the biggest game of his managerial career – a question, we swear he’s asked weekly – he played another straight bat.
“Well, it’s a big moment again,” he said. “Not for me, but for the club and for everything that has happened in the last two years and the last months.
“All the instability that we’ve been living with for many different reasons. So I think it will be really important and a big step forward if we are able to be in that final and have the opportunity to win that trophy.”
Ignoring the fact we spent 48 hours riding high in the European Super League, he was also asked if Arsenal’s five-year absence from Europe’s top table was acceptable.
“It’s a reality. It’s not what we want, obviously, but there are a lot of things that have happened in that period, for many reasons.
“One is because the level is being raised to a level that is unprecedented in this league and we are not the only club that has been out of that.
“But obviously, we’re not going to accept that situation and we want to change it straight away. This season, we still have the opportunity to do that.”
We do indeed. Win tomorrow and Arteta will get to face the same questions very soon. Lose…and he’ll probably still be asked the same questions.