When Did Arsenal Last Win The Premier League?
Although Arsenal is currently flying high at the top of the Premier League table, the season is only approaching its halfway stage and with so much football still to be played, questions are being asked of their title credentials.
There is no doubt that the crop of 2023 is certainly a special harvest, and it is exciting time to be a supporter of the club. Excitement that has arguably not been felt since the 2003/04 season – a season when Arsenal last conquered the English game.
The Invincibles 2003/04 Season
Not only was it the campaign that saw the Gunners earn a third league title in seven years, but it was one that also recorded a remarkable footnote in football history. A footnote that saw Arsene Wenger’s men go the whole 38-game season unbeaten.
Played 38, Won 26, Drawn 12, Lost 0. That was the tale of the tape come May 2004 and after seeing no entries in the loss column, this Arsenal vintage would also be rewarded with a special moniker to go alongside a custom piece of Premier League silverware.
The moniker is ‘The Invincibles’, the trophy was gold plated, the achievement has never been matched since. Yes, other Premier League teams may have scored more in the way of points across the season, one outfit even registered 100.
That was Manchester City at the end of the 2017/18 season and although being called ‘The Centurions’ was a neat addition to a set of remarkable efforts across nine months, it was not a 38-game stretch that avoided defeat.
Which is why for all the teams that surpassed Arsenal’s 2003/04 tally of 90 points, there is always a flaw to their claim of being the best ever that English football has ever seen. Do points equal prizes, they do, but at the same time going unbeaten is worth so much more.
One could argue that by the time Arsene Wenger had overseen another title win at Highbury, the brakes were then applied. The main prize was already won, all they had to do was protect their current unbeaten streak.
Which is why almost 33% of their league outings ended in a share of the points. It may not have been pretty at times, but it was certainly effective and when you talk about this invincible team, not many look back on the 12 draws that were recorded.
Key players of the Invincibles
Instead, they look at the makeup of an incredible team that was cultivated by a French professor and with Jens Lehmann acting as his mad scientist in goal, the German shotstopper was feared for his aerial prowess and his all-round madcap nature.
They say that you have to be mad to be a goalkeeper and Lehmann certainly fitted that bill. Then again, that should not distract from the level of performances that he offered in an Arsenal shirt, and such were the high standards that he set, he demanded the same from his teammates.
Defensive teammates such as Martin Keown and although the rest of Arsenal’s famous defence had long since called time on their playing days, the former Aston Villa and Everton man was on hand to help the next generation get up to speed.
A generation that would be led by Sol Campbell and after his controversial free transfer move from Tottenham, the England international would justify his move by securing silverware in North London’s red half.
Along with Campbell, there was also English defensive interest from Ashley Cole and although one could argue that his best days would come in Chelsea colours, he was on the way to becoming one of the best left backs in the world under Arsene Wenger.
Not yet to be a polished gem but nowhere near a diamond in the rough and when it comes to Kolo Toure you could certainly consider him to be the latter. An unknown when he arrived, a legend when he moved on.
Moving on to midfield and Patrick Vieria would marshal the midfield in the way that only he could. The previous partnership with Emmanuel Petit may have no longer been in place, but Gilberto Silva was undoubtedly his equal.
Maybe even better and with these two bossing the middle of the park, it allowed the likes of Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires to terrorise defenders from wide positions. The Swede and the French international were more than a handful for their opposition. If one didn’t hurt you, the other would.
While in attack there was an embarrassment of riches, some bought in for the future and others were there for the now. One may have been approaching the end of his time at Arsenal but what a player Dennis Bergkam was.
The Dutch forward arrived from Inter Milan as something as a lost hope. Out of favour at the San Siro and certainly out of form and while it took time for Bergkamp to get going in the red of white of Arsenal, it just needed the right manager to help him.
Once Bergkamp was in tune, there was simply no stopping him and the same could be said about his teammate Thierry Henry. Another player who arrived from Italy as an unwanted toy, another player who would soon be adored.
Because for a time in the early 2000’s, there is absolutely no doubt that Henry was the best forward that the Premier League had to offer. Some such as Ruud Van Nistelrooy may have come close, but the Manchester United star was nothing more than a crown prince to this particular king.
The pace that Henry had at his disposal was akin to a rocket turning on the afterburners and leaving everything else for dust. That what the French star was capable of, that is what the French star did so often.
The End of The Invincibles
All these components made for a magical Arsenal team and one that would not only win the 2003/04 Premier League title without defeat but also embark on a 49-game unbeaten run. Where it not for Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, that marvellous run could have gone on for far longer.
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