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Thierry Henry was central to the success of Arsenal's 2003/04 season

Will There Ever Be Another “Invincible” Season?

It takes great mental strength and a bit of luck to win the English Premier League, let alone go undefeated for all 38 games.

It’s a feat that only two English sides have achieved, with the Arsenal squad of 2003/04 being the most recent to etch their names into folklore, winning 26 games and drawing 12.

The only other team to go unbeaten in the English top flight? Preston North End in the 1888/89 season, funnily enough just two years after Arsenal was officially founded in Woolwich.

The Gunners were led by the messianic Thierry Henry, with the Frenchman scoring 30 of Arsenal’s league-best 73 goals. That’s 41%, nearly half, of all Arsenal goals scored that season.

Much to the delight of many supporters, Arsenal did take home the title at White Hart Lane with four games left to play in the season but their undefeated run could’ve ended prematurely in late September as Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford.

With one of the more controversial moments of the campaign, Ruud Van Nistelrooy stepped up to take what was a rather ambiguous penalty in stoppage time, which would have given United the victory and top spot in the league.

Arsenal survived the scare as the Dutchman blasted the ball into the crossbar, effectively setting the stage for what would be one of the more entertaining Premier League seasons as the usual suspects resumed their fight for English supremacy.

But will this kind of heart-stopping season ever be replicated?

The Premier League is, in my opinion, the best league in the world. Not because it has the best teams – for that honour belongs to La Liga – but because of it’s pure entertainment value.

As cliche as it is, at any given point in time, any team can beat any opponent.

Case in point: look at how Burnley defeated Liverpool earlier this season 2-0 at Turf Moor.

Despite Liverpool dominating the game – 80% possession and 26 shots compared to Burnley’s two – the Clarets came away with the three points.

It’s this kind of unpredictability which leads me to believe that no other team could possibly survive a Premier League season without losing.

In recent years, the only teams to have come close reproducing an “Invincible” season were Leicester City and Chelsea, with both squads losing only three games in their respective title-winning seasons.

But it was Chelsea who were the more consistent of the two champions, losing their first game  15 games into that season against Newcastle United, who narrowly avoided relegation with a 2-0 win over West Ham on the final day of the season.

Leicester, quite fittingly, lost two of their three games against Arsenal, with Danny Welbeck scoring a heart-stopping winner deep into injury time in their second clash as Arsenal made a late push for the title in mid-February.

But Leicester’s resilient style of play saw them win eight of their last 12 games of the season, including a notable 1-1 draw away to Manchester United which proved to be the point that sealed the title for them after Spurs and Chelsea played out a 2-2 draw.

So what does a team need to do to go 38 games undefeated?

With Manchester City’s recent dip in form, it’s becoming more apparent that money isn’t the answer to everything. Sure, it’ll win you Premier League titles, but look at how much Roman Abramovich has spent since 2003 to make Chelsea a title contender.

A team that’s worthy of not losing a single game requires tactical brilliance from the manager, a bit of luck and on-field chemistry like no other.

The Arsenal side that went 49 games undefeated was special, but the squad wasn’t full of multi-million dollar superstars like some clubs today.

It took a perfectly crafted, well-balanced side to finally achieve something that had not been done in over a century.

So will we ever see another team go unbeaten in the Premier League?

 

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About Sebastian Quinn

Sebastian Quinn
Avid lover of sports, both in the physical and romantic sense. Will write for food, especially if it's a peanut butter sandwich.

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