With all the talk of Champions League qualification, many have forgotten that the Europa League is a prize to be won in its own right.
The Europa League has yet to become anything more than a means to an end for Arsenal.
From the very beginning, nobody wanted to be in this competition. It was the second-hand European trophy that lacked the glory and prestige of the Champions League. For Arsenal to be in it was an embarrassment for everyone involved.
The success of their young players and the odd memorable moment at least made the group stages worth viewing.
Yet, the fact that Arsenal played an entirely different team during that phase reinforced the feeling that the Europa League was an unneeded distraction.
Only now, with Arsenal forever in sixth place in the Premier League, has the competition taken on a greater meaning.
If Arsenal win the Europa League, they’ll qualify for the Champions League group stages. This is the real prize of winning.
Few seem to care about winning a European trophy for the sake of winning a European trophy even though the last time we did that was in 1994.
No, the Europa League is all about qualifying for a competition we have little-to-no chance of winning.
This is, perhaps, a legacy of mingling with the elite for so long.
Arsenal considered themselves one of the big boys and that has created a feeling that they’re above playing with the mid-tier of European football.
As a fan, it is demeaning to watch your team play Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov on Thursdays while the likes of Tottenham are beating Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.
But maybe we need to put that feeling to one side, and just enjoy the competition we’re in.
Let’s forget about Champions League qualification. That’s just a bonus. The real glory will be found in winning a European trophy.
Arsenal would be able to put past failures to rest. They would create memories that few fans have. It would give this season, which has been disappointing in so many ways, some gloss. And it would further add to the club’s ever-growing tradition of success.
It would be cool to look back on this season and fondly remember a European cup run that culminated in success.
Thankfully, it looks Arsene Wenger has realised this, too, and is starting to pick his strongest side.
The Europa League is a trophy worth winning for its own sake.