The Arsenal Invincibles
It is the greatest ever feat achieved in English football and will probably not be replicated ever again. The 2003/04 Arsenal team gained immortality by going the entire Premier League season unbeaten and what made the remarkable feat all the more impressive was the fact that it was achieved through a style which can be described as beautiful football at its best.
Having narrowly lost out in the title race to Manchester United during the previous campaign, Arsenal were determined than ever to set the record straight heading into the 2003/04 campaign.
Despite their second place finish in the league last time out, many felt that Arsenal were actually the best team and manager Arsene Wenger knew that he did not need to make too many drastic changes to his side.
As a result, Jens Lehmann, who was brought in to replace stalwart David Seaman in goal, was the only notable arrival in the summer while youngsters such as Philippe Senderos, Johan Djourou, Gaël Clichy and Cesc Fàbregas were recruited with a view to the future.
Although the disappointments in the cup competitions was certainly hard to bear for the Arsenal faithful, their club did them proud by claiming the Premier League title during the 34th week of the campaign with their unbeaten record intact and to make things that bit sweeter, the Gunners’ title triumph was sealed at the home of the enemy – Tottenham Hotspur.
After winning the title, Arsenal were then intent on creating history by going the entire campaign unbeaten and despite a couple of scares in the final month, Arsene Wenger’s men held their nerve to achieve the remarkable feat.
Following their unbeaten conquest of the league, Arsenal were handed a golden replica trophy by the Premier League to mark their fantastic achievement and the victorious team became known as ‘the Invincibles’.
More than 250,000 adoring fans greeted their heroes on the streets of London after the wonderful triumph and the 2003/04 Arsenal side would go on to be named as the Best team in Premier League history.
But, Arsenal eventually went on to display why they were such a great team by sensationally ending up winning their Champions League group with their 5-1 victory over Inter Milan epitomizing the quality present in the squad, while coasted along nicely in the Premier League, League Cup and the FA Cup.
The brave Arsenal youngsters eventually lost out to Middlesbrough in the League Cup semi finals and it all came close to falling apart during the month of April where their FA Cup and Champions League dreams were shattered by Manchester United and Chelsea respectively.
More importantly though, the core of the team from last season remained intact and tying down Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira to new deals proved to be the most crucial piece of business conducted by Arsenal during the summer. Therefore, the Gunners looked a team more than capable of wrestling the title back from Manchester United on this occasion.
Apart from traditional rivals United, Chelsea had also emerged as another contender for the Premier League title as they had assembled a very good team with backing from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s millions.
Arsenal started off the campaign in August with a loss against Manchester United in the Community Shield but hit the ground running in the Premier League with a simply brilliant start and looked favourites to claim the title from the word go.
However, Arsene Wenger’s men endured a horrendous start to their Champions League campaign and doubts were slowly starting to be raised as to whether the Gunners were capable of winning any silverware by the end of the season. – Sarad Bade Shrestha. Read More…