Mikel Arteta has been warned he could face the sack if he does not win the Europa League with Arsenal this season.
The Gunners are struggling to qualify for Europe through their domestic form as they currently sit ninth in the table and four points behind Tottenham who are in the last coveted spot.
A big opportunity has opened up in front of them though, to qualify for the competition again by winning it outright, providing they can navigate their way to the trophy.
And former Tottenham striker Darren Bent feels that is the only outcome which could save Arteta if his side do not achieve a place in Europe though their league form.
“When Arsenal were looking for a manager there was two people up for grabs: Arteta and [Carlo] Ancelotti,” Bent told talkSPORT . “I thought Ancelotti should have been the one to go to Arsenal and Arteta to go to Everton.
“The early signs were really good in terms of look how quickly he [Arteta] picked up a trophy. Yes, this season has been really inconsistent but I don’t want Arsenal to turn into a club where they keep sacking managers – at some stage you’ve got to give someone a little bit of time.
“The FA Cup papers over a lot of cracks and if Arsenal go out of the Europa League and finish tenth or eleventh, I think he could be out of a job.”
Despite a disappointing draw in the first leg against Slavia Prague, Arsenal are still favourites to progress to the semi-finals when the two sides meet again on Thursday.
The team which goes through from that tie will then avoid the likes of Manchester United, Roma and Ajax in the last four to face the winner of Dinamo Zagreb vs Villarreal – a more favourable draw.
Arteta himself is fully aware of the challenge and expectations on him and his side, while also dismissing suggestions Arsenal would be better off without the distraction of European competition next season.
“It is not pressure – it is our responsibility [to qualify],” he said. “The club we represent has high demands and that is the minimum we can ask for and we have to, over time, work to deliver those goals because it is what we get asked for.
“We go back to what we used to say when those teams were in a position not to qualify for Europe we are talking about similar things.
“It is true there are some really good examples of teams that were rebuilding their teams and it helped them in their project, but I would rather be in Europe.”