The Champions League spots have looked out of reach for pretty much the entire season.

Bar the first two games, which we won and left us looking mighty proud of ourselves, the fall from grace and what we are used to has been pretty drastic.

We have grabbed a slice of optimism lately though. Mikel Arteta and his arrival has made changes at the base level, clearing out the negativity that came with the end of Unai Emery’s reign.

The pressing, the new-found defensive robustness, our ability to stop the opponents grabbing the initiative and hitting potshots at us like they were in October and November. We are even creating more.

These are early signs, but they are nothing but positive. Then the real kicker was when Man City were handed their punishment from UEFA – it means that if an appeal isn’t successful then fifth place means a spot back in the big leagues.

What about if we don’t get back in though?

What about if we not only fail to make it back into the Champions League – the priority set by the board every season since we fell out of the top4 – but we also finish below our neighbours again?

What are the ramifications for another underwhelming finish?

The most disappointing element would definitely be losing some of our star players.

We know that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is holding out for the Champions League, and would we be surprised if the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin moved on in search for domestic bliss?

Even Gabriel Martinelli could well look for another avenue to European top dining. The Brazilian is undoubtedly top property and could be inundated with offers should we again fail to make the grade.

These are of course worst case scenarios, but it is not inconceivable that we could face a mandatory recruitment drive.

The business end of the season is upon us – and it couldn’t be more important for a strong finish.