Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The EPL returned over the week with fireworks galore in the opening fixtures of the restart.
To get you through the wait, NBC Sports Washington has devoted a week of stories on each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we miss the Premier League, too.
Our final week, the one dedicated to Arsenal, kicks off by looking back at one of the most impressive accomplishments in soccer, and frankly all of sports, with the 2003-04 unbeaten Invincibles.
Arsenal fans who grew up with the teams of the last two decades have not had much to cheer about. Two losses in the opening week of the restart is definitely another downer, especially with the way the team capitulated in stoppage time Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion. Sure, there was the string of three FA Cups in four years which look nice in the trophy cabinet, but for a team competing in European competitions every season, FA Cups don’t hold a candle to winning the Premier League or Champions League.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Arsenal fans though, because they still have one thing over every other club (other than 1888-89 Preston North End): an unbeaten league season.
Nicknamed The Invincibles, Arsenal’s 2003-04 team will go down as one of the best in the sport’s history. Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure, Jans Lehmann and many others combined for 26 wins, 12 draws and 0 defeats to secure the first, and only, 38-game unbeaten season in Premier League history. Juventus is the only other club from a big five European league able to boast an unbeaten season since the turn of the century when they also went 38 matches unbeaten to win Serie A in 2011-12.
Many will remember the season for the goalscoring prowess of talismanic forward Thierry Henry, who tallied 30 times across the 38 games. Only 5 players have scored more in Premier League history and they are a veritable who’s who of the English game’s best players: Andy Cole, Alan Shearer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Mohammad Saleh. But it was arguably the club’s defense that was the biggest star in its unbeaten campaign.
Legendary manager Arsene Wenger, who led the Gunners for 1,235 matches across 22 seasons from 1996-2018, tightened up things at the back with Jans Lehmann taking over for the departing David Seaman in goal. Kolo Toure and Sol Campbell proved a formidable center back partnership that allowed only 26 goals all season.
There are teams before and since that have scored more goals, collected more points and conceded fewer goals en route to Premier League titles, but The Invincibles stand alone as the only unbeaten bunch in the record books.
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