Five of the Premier League’s Big Six begin their search for redemption in European football this week.
There’s only one problem… they can’t all achieve it.
Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all have their individual stories as to why their respective Champions League and Europa League quarter-finals are absolutely paramount.
Under Pep Guardiola, City have won everything except for the Champions League.
Despite all the plaudits, and even if they pull off a domestic Treble this season, it will feel slightly hollow to Guardiola and the club if they do not win the Champions League at last.
Everyone connected with City knows they need this trophy to truly crown their greatness.
Liverpool’s decline from Premier League champions has been alarming.
A number of people, me included, sense that they might continue bringing their very best to the Champions League – and could win it.
But make no mistake, if they do not lift that trophy, the 2020/21 season will represent a disaster for Liverpool.
Chelsea have done well since Frank Lampard’s sacking, but they are still a mile away from the standards set by City and Liverpool over the last few years.
Champions League football for next season is on a knife-edge and without it, it will be difficult for them to bridge that gap. Lifting the Champions League solves all those problems.
Manchester United are still searching for a clear path back to the Sir Alex Ferguson glory days.
There is improvement but a double-digit points difference behind City doesn’t lie.
Finishing second in the Premier League will be encouraging, but we are talking United here – I can feel Roy Keane’s glare at saying United feel ‘encouraged’ in coming second!
Jose Mourinho led them to the runners-up spot in the league and glory in the Europa League.
If they can win it again it will add far more weight to the progress they are making.
Arsenal are a shadow of their former selves.
The irony is overwhelming that so many fans moaned about Arsene Wenger in his later years at the club, despite having secured 19 seasons of Champions League football.
Now they lie in mid-table mediocrity.
Winning the Europa League is their only way of getting back in the Champions League next season.
And it would be exactly what they need to begin rebuilding themselves.
English clubs are still a major force in Europe and after two seasons of not a very competitive Premier League, the scrap between them for European glory will be intense.