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On This Day in 2004: Arsenal go 49 Games Unbeaten

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49 games. 36 wins. 13 draws. 0 losses.

That is the record of which the Arsenal Invincible’s amassed during the period of May 2003 and October 2004. Most football fans will probably agree that this team will go down in history as one of the greatest modern day football.

Arsenal would start their unbeaten run by beating Southampton at home and Sunderland away at the end of the 2002/2003 season. During the summer they would secure the services of the likes of Jens Lehmann, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Jose Antonio Reyes and Robin van Persie. They would begin the 2003/2004 season by winning their first four games and only condign twice along the way scoring eight. After draws against Portsmouth and Manchester United, the Gunners would beat Newcastle at home 3-2 to round off September on a high note.

October would see the club face a tough challenge playing Liverpool at Anfield and Chelsea at Highbury but Wenger’s team would run out 2-1 winners in both games. A draw against Charlton was enough to put Arsenal 1st in the league again after gathering a total of 24 points from 10 games rounding off another solid month. All eyes were on North London as Tottenham would pay Arsenal a visit for the first derby of the season. Tottenham had not beaten their rivals at Highbury for nearly a decade and their last victory was way back in 1999. However, despite conceding first in the game, Arsenal pulled it back and eventually won 2-1. Fulham would hold the Gunners to a 0-0 draw meaning they became the first team to deny Arsenal from scoring in 46 league matches at Highbury. Chelsea would beat Manchester United to regain top spot meaning Arsenal would fall the 2nd place.

Arsenal would draw against Leicester in December but would go on to beat Blackburn 1-0 the following weekend. However they would go on to drop two points at Bolton but round off 2003 with wins against Wolves and Southampton.

The first game of the New Year would see the Gunners draw against Everton 1-1. They would go on to play Middlesborough 3 days later beating them 4-1 in a game which Wenger described his sides performance as one of the best of the season. It was after this game that they moved to the top of the league again but with Manchester United behind them sharing the same amount of points, goal difference and goals scored. Henry would round off the last game of January scoring twice at Villa Park. After 22 games being played, Arsenal were in 1st position with 22 points and a lead over second place Manchester United by two points.

February would be another unforgettable month for Wenger’s men as they would win five out of five games including another 2-1 win over rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Thierry Henry would also enjoy a successful month celebrating his 100th and 101th league goals for the club after he scored against Southampton. Arsenal would lead at the top of the league by seven points and Wenger described this position as “a stronger position than any they held last season.” The win against Charlton meant that after 27 games, they had accumulated 67 points and had a lead of nine points over rivals Manchester United and Chelsea.

Wins against Blackburn and Bolton cemented another good start to the month with the next game being against the Red Devils which has a highly anticipated match following the previous encounter. Both sides would have to settle for a 1-1 draw but Sir Alex Ferguson declared after the match that “They’ll (Arsenal) go on to win the league now – I’m sure of that.” By avoiding another defeat, Arsenal had set the record for 30 matches unbeaten from the start of the season.

April began with Arsenal winning 4-2 against Liverpool before drawing 0-0 with Newcastle. The game against Leeds United would see striker Thierry Henry score four times in the 5-0 win. Arsene Wenger would describe Henry as “the best striker in the world,” after his performance. The win would position the Gunners just two wins away from securing the league title. With Chelsea unable to achieve maximum points from their next two games, Arsenal knew that a draw in the North London derby would be enough for them to be crowned champions. With the derby ending 2-2, Arsenal celebrated their success with this being the second time that they had won the league at a rivals ground with the first being in 1971. Wenger told the BBC after the game, “We’ve been remarkably consistent, haven’t lost a game and we have played stylish football. We have entertained people who just love football.”

The final month of the season started off with draws against Birmingham and Portsmouth but ended with wins against Fulham and Leicester. Arsenal finished the league with 26 wins, 12 draws and no defeats meaning they had become the first team since Preston North End in 188-89 to go through an entire season without losing a game.

Arsenal began the 2004-2005 season going nine games without losing but would soon fall to defeat at the hands of none other that Manchester United losing 2-0 at Old Trafford.

No team has ever come close to reaching this level of success and many argue that it is almost near impossible to be replicated again. However, ‘never say never’ as they usually say and who knows, maybe some day in the future there will be another team like the Invincible’s of 2003/2004?

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