Will it Ever Get as Good Again for the Gunners?!

Arsenals Top Season 2003-2004

Step up – Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles.

They are the only team to go unbeaten for a complete season since Preston North End went unbeaten in the inaugural season of the Football League in 1889 with a record of:

P22, W18, D4. L0, GF74, GA15, Pts58. In retaining the Premier League Championship in 2001/02 Arsenal had also equalled Preston North Ends record of going unbeaten away for the entire season by beating Manchester United 0-1 at Old Trafford in our final away game.

Arsene only used 22 players in the whole season with Jens Lehmann playing in all 38 games – which included 15 shut outs.

2003-04  Arsene Wenger’s -Invincibles
CountryPosPlayerAppsSubsGamesGoals
GermanyGoalJens Lehmann380380
FranceFwdThierry Henry3703730
Ivory CoastDefKole Toure361371
FranceMidRobert Pires3333614
EnglandDefSol Campbell350351
EnglandDefAshley Cole320320
CameroonDefLauren302320
BrazilMidGilberto Silva293324
SwedenMidFreddie Ljungberg273304
FranceMidPatrick Vieira290293
BrazilMidEdu1217292
NetherlandsFwdDenis Bergkamp217284
EnglandMidRay Parlour1210220
FranceDefPascal Cygan108180
SpainFwdJose Antonio-Reyes76132
FranceFwdSylvain Wiltord84123
FranceDefGael Clichy75120
FranceFwdJeremie Aliadiere 37100
NigeriaFwdKanu37101
EnglandDefMartin Keown37100
EnglandMidDavid Bentley 1010
EnglandDefJustin Hoyte0110
 
Arsenal 2003-04 Season Results
 
    VWDLGFGAPts
1Aug16EvertonH1  213
2Aug24BoroA1  403
3Aug27Aston VillaH1  203
4Aug31Man CA1  213
5Sep13PortsmouthH 1 111
6Sep21Man UA 1 001
7Sep26NewcastleH1  323
8Oct4LiverpoolA1  213
9Oct18ChelseaH1  213
10Oct26CharltonA 1 111
11Nov1LeedsA1  413
12Nov8TottenhamH1  213
13Nov22BirminghamA1  303
14Nov30FulhamH 1 001
15Dec6LeicesterA 1 111
16Dec14BlackburnH1  103
17Dec20BoltonA 1 111
18Dec26WolvesH1  303
19Dec29SaintsA1  103
20Jan7EvertonA 1 111
21Jan10BoroH1  413
22Jan18Aston VillaA1  203
23Feb1Man CH1  213
24Feb7WolvesA1  313
25Feb10SaintsH1  203
26Feb21ChelseaA1  213
27Feb28CharltonH1  213
28Mar13BlackburnA1  203
29Mar20BoltonH1  213
30Mar28Man UH 1 111
31Apr9LiverpoolH1  423
32Apr11NewcastleA 1 001
33Apr16LeedsH1  503
34Apr25TottenhamA 1 221
35May1BirminghamH 1 001
36May4PortsmouthA 1 111
37May9FulhamA1  103
38May15LeicesterH1  213
Totals: 26120732690

Although he performed well throughout the 2002/03 season long-serving keeper David Seaman was released at the end of the campaign. Arsenal brought in Jens Lehmann from Borussia Dortmund for a mere £1.5 million – a steal, considering just how important he would be for Arsenal over the next 12 months. Due to building the Emirates there were no big-name signings; club captain Patrick Vieira signed a new contract in the face of strong interest from Manchester United, Chelsea, and Real Madrid. With Arsene not make any big changes to the squad, and with no major departures, Arsenal started the season with the same group of players as the previous season.

The season kicked off with Arsenal in inspired form. A 2-1 home victory over Everton on the opening day was followed up with 4-0 win over Middlesbrough, a 2-0 win over Aston Villa and a 2-1 away victory over David Seaman and Manchester City. With just four games played, Arsenal had already put three points between them and fellow title-chasers Manchester United, leaving them sitting comfortably in first place, having scored ten and conceded just two.

Our unbeaten run came close to ending at Old Trafford in the sixth game of the season when United were awarded a penalty in injury time (no surprise there) but (our least liked player) Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up and missed the penalty and the match ended tied at 0–0. Tempers boiled over in the game dubbed the ‘Battle of Old Trafford’ following Vieira being given a red card.

October presented a tough schedule with a trip to Anfield and a home game against Chelsea.  Despite falling behind against Liverpool we recovered to win 2-1. Going into the Chelsea game, both sides were level at the top of the table and were also undefeated in the league. The game appeared to be heading for a draw until a Carlo Cudicini blunder saw Thierry Henry give Arsenal the win, bringing an end to Chelsea’s unbeaten run. Despite the fact we had still not lost a poor 0-0 draw against Fulham on Nov 30th gave Chelsea the chance to take over at the top of the table.

 At the turn of the year Arsenal had made it half way through the season without tasting defeat in the Premier League and the unbeaten season began to take place: but despite this feat, Arsenal entered 2004 in second place, one point behind leaders Manchester United.

See the source image

The Gunners’ first game of the year once again ended with a lacklustre draw against Everton, while United secured a victory to increase their lead to three points. Although, things picked up with a dominant 4-1 win over Middlesbrough, which saw us draw level with United on points, goal difference and goals scored. Henry then began a goal scoring run which would see him net in each of the club’s next six games, the second and third of which came against Aston Villa a week later giving Arsenal all three points. Despite a trip to title chasers Chelsea and a visit to Manchester City, February would prove to be one of the best months in the campaign, with five wins in five games.

After 30 games Arsenal had officially beaten the Premier League record of consecutive game without defeat.

On April 25th we went to White Hart Lane knowing knew that a single point would be enough to end any chance of a late Chelsea comeback. Goals from Vieira and Pirés were enough to secure a 2-2 draw that handed Arsenal the trophy at the home of the North London pretenders with four games to spare.

We saw out the final month of Premier League action comfortably, with a bore draw against Birmingham City followed up with a 1-1 draw at Portsmouth and a 1-0 victory over Fulham. Despite going behind in their final game against Leicester City, Arsenal bossed the second-half, claiming victory thanks to goals from Henry and Vieira.

2003-04 League Table
  PWDLFAPts
1Arsenal3826120732690
2Chelsea382477673079
3Man U382369643575
4Liverpool38161210553760
5Newcastle3813178524056
6Aston Villa38151112484456
7Charlton38141113515153
8Bolton38141113485653
9Fulham38141014524652
10Birmingham38121412434850
11Boro3813916445248
12Saints38121115444547
13Portsmouth3812917475445
14Tottenham3813619475745
15Blackburn3812818515944
16Man C3891415555441
17Everton3891217455739
18Leicester3861517486533
19Leeds388921407933
20Wolves3871219387733

After Arsenal completed the only 38-match season unbeaten, the Premier League commissioned a unique gold trophy to commemorate the achievement. Arsène Wenger was presented the trophy as a parting gift from the club after his last home game as manager on 6 May 2018.

GunnerN5

44 thoughts on “Will it Ever Get as Good Again for the Gunners?!

  • Great post, GN5.

    I spoke to a mate recently and he said that back then an older guy nudged him once and said: “you do know that we are witnessing a once in a lifetime here, don’t you? Make sure you enjoy it!”.

    It was such a special time and we were all on top of the world. Will Arsene/Arsenal’s record ever be broken?

  • It was also a special time personally as at the end of it all – a month later – my daughter was born and I did my first Director role that year too. Magic.

  • TA, The whole season and the team was special and even today i see these videos to savor the moments. I remember those days fondly and it was touching when my clients in UK gifted me a book full of the Unbeaten Season pictures. I bought the CD as well to treasure the moment. The 03-04 calendar occupies a pride of place in my room as well. What a team it was and it was a shame that we couldn’t win the Champions league. The football we played was out of this world. I also fell in love with Martin Tyler and Andy Gray during this period for their commentary.

  • Great stuff, Madhu. What a nice addition to your work experiences in the UK that must have been. No wonder you cherish it so much. It is great to know that somewhere in Bangalore there is a room with such Arsenal memorabilia!

  • Oh Yes TA, my book shelf has a few Arsenal books as well. Iam a through and through gooner, even watched the movie ‘Fever Pitch’. Glad to say that my 13 year old son is a chip of the old block :).

  • Great stuff, Madhu.

    Maybe you could write a post for us on your Arsenal experiences when working in different parts of the world. Or you could write a post about anything really. Or maybe your son would like to write something about Arsenal.

    No pressure though, just a thought.

  • The look of pain on Arsene’s face always gets me upset about the manner in which the great man was led out of Arsenal – there were so many better way’s for his time to have ended – he had earned and deserved so much better!

  • Talking about getting upset – the manner in which our unbeaten run ended with Rooney diving for a penalty always gnaws at my gut – where was VAR when we needed it the most. We could also used VAR with Barcelona’s offside goal to tie the CL final…………..so upsetting!

  • It’s also interesting to look back on our season’s results and note just how lop sided our goal scoring was.

  • Sure TA, i would love to, let me think about what i can write. By the way its great for people like me who are not from UK to be able to come to blogs like yours and just talk about our beloved club with my fellow gooners. No insanitation that iam not a real fan as i haven’t been to Highbury or Emirates which i was called in another blog long many years ago. Thanks for opportunity.

  • Cheers Madhu, all are welcome here and as you will have noticed we have many internationally based Gooners as well lifelong supporters base in the UK. The only things that matter are passion, support and footie knowledge. Oh and friendship of course. 😊⚽

  • GN5, it had to come to an end and we will always despise the Mancs for the way they cheated us that day. But 49, 7×7, is a great number.

  • Burnley v Arsenal: AWAY
    Aston Villa v Wolves: Draw
    W.B.A. v Newcastle: Home
    Man C v Man U (correct score game): 1-1
    Tottenham v Crystal Palace: Draw
    Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid: Home

  • Try again 😉

    Key absentees push Arsenal u23s into relegation battle

    afcDW
    3rd Mar, 2021
    With seven games left to play, the Arsenal u23s are much closer to a relegation battle than fighting for the title, with a few key injuries exposing a lack of depth in the current squad.

    Steve Bould’s side lost 4-0 to Liverpool at the weekend, to end a poor run of matches against the other big-six-club academies. The last five games have also included draws with Spurs and Chelsea and defeats to Manchester United and Manchester City.

    Arsenal sit four points clear of the relegation zone, having played two games more than Friday’s opponents Southampton. If Southampton win those games in hand, only Leicester City (two points behind, having played a game more) will sit between the young Gunners and the drop.

    After a run of five consecutive league wins from November to January, it looked like Arsenal were turning a corner. But the recent results against tougher opponents have brought them back down to earth. Having played all 10 league fixtures against the big-six clubs, they’ve lost seven, drawn three, and won none.

    Injuries and contract issues;
    Undoubtedly, part of the problem this season has been injuries and other absences.

    One big miss at the moment is January signing Omar Rekik, who joined to play at centre-back but is out injured. Arsenal have had to name pairings of inexperienced u18 defenders who have each made at least one or two individual errors leading to goals or red cards in recent weeks.

    Midfield talents Miguel Azeez and Charlie Patino are also unavailable through injury. Summer signings George Lewis and Salah-Eddine Oulad M’Hand haven’t started a game between them since October.

    Then there’s Folarin Balogun. Speculation around his situation seemed to be affecting him as he blanked in his last three games against Spurs, Chelsea, and Manchester United. After that, he dropped out of the squad completely, with no official clarity on why that was.

    Some claim the striker and u23 captain has had an injury setback, whereas others point to the fact he’s deleted all his Instagram photos as evidence that he’s on the way out. For the record, Mikel Arteta is still insisting the player wants to stay and they’ve had positive conversations with his agent. Whatever the case may be, he’s not available to start right now.

    Balogun isn’t the only one whose contract situation appears to be affecting his minutes. Kido Taylor-Hart only made his second u23 start of the season in February, and he surely would have played more if he’d signed professional terms with Arsenal. But like Balogun, he’s running down his deal.

    Loan absences having an impact;
    The squad would be a lot stronger if Arsenal hadn’t sent so many players out on loan. At centre-back in particular, the likes of Daniel Ballard, Harry Clarke, Joseph Olowu, Zech Medley, and Mark McGuinness would certainly have improved the back-line hugely. Of course, it’s better to see them all playing senior matches.

  • Tyreece John-Jules would have ensured that Balogun wasn’t such a big miss if he hadn’t gone out to Doncaster Rovers. Matt Smith’s absence in midfield has been felt keenly as well.

    To sum up, it’s true that the u23s have been a bit of an inconsistent mess so far this campaign, but there are plenty of external factors influencing that situation. It’s not entirely on the tactics or coaching.

    Sharp turnaround needed

    The problem is that no amount of excuses can prevent the lasting impact relegation would have on the academy.

    Arsenal need to be testing themselves against the other top youth sides, all of whom are currently in the top flight of PL2 football. You can’t send everyone out on loan, and those that remain need to have a competitive environment to aid their development.

    Reiss Nelson has been playing with the u23s lately, and he’s been one of the few bright sparks in the team. I’d much prefer to see him in the senior setup, but if Mikel Arteta isn’t going to use him, it makes sense for him to help the youth side out and get some minutes for himself.

    I’d argue that Eddie Nketiah, who hasn’t made a Premier League squad for five games and hasn’t started a league game since before Christmas, should also have been involved.

    But the fact is that Bould shouldn’t need the pair to bail his team out. He has seven games to turn things around, with all of the big-six fixtures out of the way and many of his injured players hopefully returning to action soon.

    You can somewhat understand how we got to this point, but the pressure is rightly on the coach to get some results now.

  • Lost the first part of that cut n paste piece, the Internet has eaten it again… 🙂

    Great work GN5, I recall chatting to a mate of mine a couple of years ago and we’d both enjoyed the glory years of Bertie Mee, George Graham and Arsenal Wenger seeing Arsenal win the League six times as well as numerous cups, but with the artificially financed clubs of today we did wonder if we’d ever see Arsenal win the League again in our lifetimes, I mean it’s almost 17 years this summer and I can’t honestly say that we’re anywhere close to taking on Man City anytime soon…

  • Burnley vs Arsenal…………. Draw
    Aston Villa vs Wolves……… Draw
    West Brom vs Newcastle… Draw
    Man City vs Man Utd……… Away (2-3)
    Tottnum vs Palace…………. Home
    Atletico vs Real Madrid….. Home

  • Thanks GN5What a great time that was, truly a pleasure to watch that team play. No pressing, VAR , etc ro worry about. I don’t think we will see a team like that for many a year.
    If ever it got boring which was very rare, we always had Mad Lens to liven things up.

  • Thank you as always GN5. As someone who came to the Arsenal after the glory years, it’s nice for me to read the historical perspective from you.
    Nice to hear Madhu and TA share as well. What a time it must have been.

    Kev, it’s a little disappointing to hear the youth team failing, and I think we can officially forget about Balogun now. Never knew him, and its only human to hope he doesnt achieve much after spurning us.

  • @Kev 🙂 just the impatience to submit.
    Jync – Oh yes, it was a magical time and i keep going back and seeing those discs that i have got, its exhilarating even now. The swelling of the heart with Pride as you listen to Martin Tyler, Andy Gray, John Campion, Peter etal eulogize our football is a joy to behold. There have been some remarkable one liners. sample this
    # Arsenal pierces Boro defense like a knife through butter
    # Help !! – Steve Mclaren used a telephone from stands to contact his coaching staff on the Bench
    # Thierry Henry reaches to the heights once more and achieves it
    # You have your Pavel Nedved, your Zidane but Highbury will never trade Henry
    # There is no more free scoring midfielder in the whole of Europe than the elegant Frenchmen Pires
    # I have seen many premier league striker, but none like him he is phenomenal, unbelievable
    # Does Arsenal ever score a scrappy goal
    # Highbury rises again and never tires to raise for these remarkable football

    These still ring my ears

  • You know what Johnno, maybe those running the academy thought that our U18’s could pick up the slack more than they have. I think it’s been a mixture of injuries, too many sent on loan, poor decision making by the coach, poor decision making by the players, internal politics as in players not signing contracts and some players being clearly not up to it. In the end the coaching of Bould will come into question as you can and should compare it with how Ljungberg did, but Freddie had better players and better players make you a better coach.

  • I remember when Match of the Day still had Des Lynam presenting, you know in those days before the BBC decided to pay Gary Lineker a fortune for 10 minutes work, Lynam was the ultimate professional whilst Lineker is just me me me. The season was 1997/98 and Arsenal had won the title and at the end of the programme they did this 3 or 4 minute montage of all the Arsenal players involved in winning the Double with a great soundtrack, it was awesome, I can’t bloody remember the soundtrack but it was perfect.

  • Great stuff, Kev. Scary how time flies. I used to watch MOTD from the Netherlands back then. On an hour later than in the UK of course but always the perfect way to finish a Saturday. 🙂

  • We can only wish and hope to see a team like that again. I often wonder if moving to a new stadium was the right move as that “sparkle’ has rarely been seen since – now we have a wonderful facility but a less than satisfying football experience.

    However I still enjoy watching our team and will continue to do so through thick and thin, but it still feels strange not to be in the CL each year and playing against the top European teams.

  • Le Gall , unless I missed them I’m still waiting for your predictions for this weekends games.

  • Oops I glad you mentioned that Total as it’s JW1’s predictions that I’m missing.

  • Kev, that was amazing!!!!!!!
    Radiohead??? I love them.. that song is haunting… beautiful. The montage so seriously done.
    I would give ANYTHING for it to be the 90’s again. Anything.

  • Madhu,
    great quotes! I can just imagine them coming for Tyler, Gray, Champion. Such high praise is so rare.

  • Andre Marriner this weekend at Burnley, we’ve had some problems with him in the past, so far he’s done three of our games with 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat, so it’s anyones guess how it’ll go…

    The ball hits a Fulham player on his arm in the box with it tight by his side and Fulham have a goal chalked off.
    The ball hits a Chelsea player on his arm in the box with it away from his body and it’s no penalty.

    Please explain, because I’m an ex referee from many years ago and I haven’t a scooby doo.

  • GN5, regarding the move to Emirates from Highbury I have had these thoughts from the time the announcements were made. It may become louder now as we don’t knwo if we will ever return to 60000 fans in the stadium. Highbury is such a soulful stadium with northbanks , clockend and teh stories connected to them. Emirates is a modern souless concrete jungle testament to neo-lineral capitalist society.
    I often remember my old mate Andy who was a Sheffield Wednesday fan who said to me when asked about his beloved football club. ‘Great Stadium, Great Fans , crappy team’. Just hope that we don’t become like what my mate Andy said about his beloved club.

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