Beleaguered Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and his band of faltering stars were pictured arriving at their London Colney training headquarters amid a mounting crisis as the club.
The Gunners lost 2-1 at Brighton on Sunday for their fourth successive defeat in all competitions, which has left them 13 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.
That humiliating defeat has piled more misery on Wenger, who must win the Europa League to save his long-held position at the club.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Jack Wilshere and Alexandre Lacazette were among the grim-faced Gunners arriving on Tuesday morning after seeing their top four hopes all but evaporate last weekend.
Their last hope of lifting a trophy and Champions League qualification now rests on winning the Europa League and they face Italian giants AC Milan in the first leg of their last-16 encounter this Thursday.
It is understood success in Europe’s second-tier competition, which will guarantee Champions League football for next season, will keep Wenger in his current role.
But the Arsenal board are expected to part ways with the Frenchman should Arsenal suffer heartbreak in the Europa League, and fail to qualify for the Champions League for a second successive season.
Wenger conceded at the weekend that winning the Europa League has become important to Arsenal after defeat at Brighton left their top-four hopes in tatters.
Spurs occupy fourth spot at the moment but Wenger has been insistent in recent weeks that he wants to seal a Champions League return through league position rather than winning the Europa League as Manchester United did last year.
That now looks unlikely as first-half goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray were enough to beat an uninspiring Arsenal and give Chris Hughton’s Seagulls an even better chance of securing top-flight survival.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a consolation goal before the break but the siege of the Brighton goal never came, as Arsenal headed back to north London still with only three away Premier League wins to their name this season.