Some people can never resist a dig at Arsenal…
Journalist Miguel Delaney couldn’t resist a pop at Arsenal yesterday after Liverpool saw their hopes of going Invincible ended by Watford in a 3-0 defeat at Vicarage Road.
It was the Reds’ first loss of the league season, meaning their unbeaten run ended at 44 games – five short of our English football record of 49.
Still, fine writer as he is, Delaney has perhaps tried to stir up controversy a bit by dismissing the Gunners’ achievements of that famous 2003/04 season.
I mean, it’s fair enough to say we perhaps underachieved in the Champions League that season, but it’s easy to forget that, even in an era when we boasted talents like Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires at their peak, we were still punching above our weight financially and didn’t quite have the squad depth to go all the way in three competitions. Our starting XI was good enough to do it, no doubt, but by that point in the season we were knackered, and came up against a good Chelsea side in the Champions League quarter-finals.
It hurts that we couldn’t go further in Europe, but even if we let ourselves down on that front, that shouldn’t take anything away from finishing the league campaign without a single defeat. If journalists find it so easy to dismiss it, perhaps they can explain why it’s only been done once in a 38-game season in over 100 years of English football (yes we know Preston did it but in a 22-game season)?
I’ve also seen a few people pointing out that we drew 12 games in 2003/04, as though going unbeaten only counts if we win all of them? What’s this weird criteria everyone’s using? Sure, if we’d gone unbeaten by drawing all 38 games and getting relegated that year maybe people would have a point, but we didn’t, we won the title by a comfortable distance without losing and whilst playing some stunningly attractive attacking football.
We’re not telling anyone they have to think the Invincibles are the best ever, but it is slightly irritating that Man United’s treble season is not held to quite the same standards – they won the league by just one point, got lucky with two quick-fire set pieces in the Champions League final etc.
Crazy idea, but maybe we can just learn to appreciate different teams and the different ways they showed greatness without having to put others down?