Were Arsenal’s Invincibles the Greatest League Team of all time? Of course they were!

This week the BBC, bored perhaps of the international break, started a debate about who is the greatest ever Premiership team. The games governing body themselves have long voted Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ as winners of that accolade, one of several awards we have received for going a League campaign undefeated.

For me, I can’t see the counter argument.
Clubs win titles, Cups, have success in Europe, but very few do what we did in 2003/2004. Only one in fact! To put into perspective how special the feat was, it was last done by Preston in 1888. In other words many of us might not be alive for it to be matched, if it ever will be. Of course though certain TV and Radio pundits don’t need an invitation to try and reeducate younger supporters, twisting statistics to down play the best squad in our history. It is time to challenge those myths …….

We Lost To Chelsea In the Quarter Final of Champions League

Was this a missed opportunity? Of course, it’s frustrating to think that tiredness caught up with us at Highbury (we lost a FA Cup Semi Final days before), not the fact Chelsea were the better team. Should though this be used as a stick to beat us with? It seems odd that a fixture not in the Premiership is used as evidence to conclude who’s the best Premiership team? No cup tie can be used to make such a judgement. In knock out competitions the line between success and failure is so fine you can’t use it’s results to measure long term development, unlike a 38 match marathon. If anything, doesn’t overcoming the adversity of being knocked out of two competitions within days, make it more impressive that we bounced back?

Look at it from another angle. The year we got to the Champions League final we only just squeezed into 4th place. If we had won in Paris, do you think the TalkSport’s of this World would have labelled us the best in this country when 3 of our rivals were better placed in the League? Of course not.

We drew too many Games

Apparently not losing in 38 matches isn’t enough for some in the media who felt we didn’t win enough. Of course the same people fail to mention that if it’s as easy as drawing 12 fixtures, why has no one else in the modern era done it? Not that I feel I should have to defend results which made us champions but as soon as the title was mathematically assured, the pressure got to us as we were so close to making history. In the last month of campaign we drew games we would have won any other time. If not for protecting our streak we would have won meaningless fixtures. I’d rather win less and never lose, than win more but lose.

Other Champions Got More Points

This is probably the argument I hate the most. Your target at the start of each season is to be better then 19 other clubs. How you do that in terms of points total, when or where it was won, etc is irrelevant. No supporter remembers what year who got how many points, just that they won the League or failed. Should we give Man United credit because at other times they would have won the title with last seasons points total? We finished 5th before with a tally that in any other year would have meant Champions League qualification, does it change the facts? Other title races have been decided on the final day, In 2004, the level of competition meant we had 4 games to spare, 4 games where we had the luxury to put our feet up, 12 more points we were free to dismiss. But we didn’t!

We were Lucky
Some often point to a Pires’ dive at home to Portsmouth and a Man United penalty hitting the bar, as examples of how close we came to losing a game. Isn’t that why we love sport? The fact that the line between success and failure is so fine, isn’t that why we keep coming back? The ball hits the post, and it bouncing back out or going over the line can decide if your a winner or loser. Considering that, shouldn’t it make doubters respect the feat even more? We balanced going away from home, injuries, players not on form, days where luck isn’t with you and still found a way to never taste defeat.

Dan Smith


  1. Thomo says:

    Well you can’t rule out manchester utds treble winner’s

    1. Tom McNally says:

      And how many of United’s Cup games were in the League.

    2. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Thomo, I think maybe you’re forgetting how lucky they we’re with goals in the last minutes and Bayern hitting the bar before those goals we’re scored. Also we hammered ’em that night at Villa Park before the famous goal from the guy who nicked his brother’s wife, forget his name?

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        The perfect chant for the Emirates crowd, “WE’RE INVINCIBLE, YOU’LL NEVER DO THAT”

      2. Thomo says:

        Look im a gooner i loved the invincibles but winning trophies is what its about but to win 3 in 1 season thats unbelievable and of course some like was involved .we had luck come our way in 03/04 robert pires

  2. gotanidea says:

    I will just give big applause to the European league teams from year 1990 and above, because the top European leagues have become ridiculuously not balanced after the tycoons and the big corruptors invested their dirty money

    – Greatest European league team of all time: Guardiola’s Barcelona when they won all possible trophies in one year

    – Greatest Premier League team of all time: Ferguson’s Manchester United when they won EPL, FA Cup and Champions League

    – Wenger’s Invicibles is one of the greatest EPL teams, but they did not win Champions League at that time

    1. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Robbed, the night we payed Barcelona in Paris, Better team, even with ten men. Why don’t you join the Manchester United website.

  3. Ingleby says:

    If the question relates to Premier League then it’s Arsenal. Unbeaten – no question.

    Or, perhaps it ought to be Preston. They didn’t lose in the top division and didn’t lose a single European game – of course, it was 19th Century!
    What a pointless debate – yes it’s during the fake international bore lull.

    1. jon fox says:

      Yes, I remember seeing you there back then . How is Queen Victoiria now? Still dead?

    2. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Like the fact you know you’re history but there we’re only twelve teams in the Football League in those days.

      1. Ingleby says:

        I was making the point (or trying to) that the debate is pointless. It compares teams at different time periods, different opponents, different financial strengths. In other words not like for like. It’s merely a question of subjective opinion. The media, because they have little else to write or broadcast, continually come up with these daft ‘who was the best/greatest/worst’ features simply to fill the void in their own ability to engage in anything resembling serious journalism.

        1. jon fox says:

          Much truth in your comment that to truly compare like to like is very difficult. You can therefore compare one modern keeper with another but only when both play for the same team with same teammates. Any other comparisons , even of modern keepers but in different teams are bound to be NOT like to like. And over a century apart, you cannot so compare PNA Invincibles to Arsenal ’04. Also agree about the media void comment too! On a wider point and as an older fan, I lament the general lower standards of print journalism these days. There are still some top journos but many, even most, are really poor and uninspiring and many do not research , either properly or sometimes not even at all.

  4. Big G says:

    Arsenal rightfully are the Premierships greatest team after going undefeated in a season, a fact no one can dispute. However i appreciate good football and nothing can pain me more when i say i was in awe of the football played by Man Utd when they won the treble in “99”.

  5. Ben says:

    My ticket is booked and confirmed via Thomas Cook sport, can’t wait Arsenal vs Wolves 11/11/2018

    but I see on the map that my Hotel (4 Portal Way, London, W3 6RT) is about 12 miles from Emirates stadium, anyone in London here for advice on how to get around in London.

    1. jon fox says:

      The Underground is the best way by far in London, direct to Arsenal Station on the Piccadiilly line. Easy to obtain a map on line. Avoid buses, unless you have time to spare. Good luck and hope you love the occasion.

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Or get a cab.

        1. Kenny Rolfe says:

          No, to be serious, Jon Fox is right. You’re staying quite a way from central London, near to Park Royal. Get to Park Royal Underground Station which fortunately for you is on the Piccadilly Line. Then get one train (no changing ) direct to Arsenal Underground Station and thank Herbert Chapman for getting the station name changed from Gillespie Road. Enjoy your day Ben, the Emirates is a wonderful stadium with excellent facilities.

          1. Ben says:

            Initially I wanted to be closer to the Stadium.
            The plan was to get my match day ticket and look for my own accommodation but seems like a hustle to get a ticket from Arsenal.com, so I had no choice but to go with Thomas cook sports and they have their own hotel partners,

            Thanks everyone, I’ll definitely make the most of the trip.

    2. Sue says:

      Ben I’ve just got tickets for that match too!

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Good for you Sue. We need supporters like you. Hope you also enjoy you’re day

        1. Sue says:

          Thanks Kenny ??

      2. Ben says:

        See you in Block 74

  6. jon fox says:

    I thought the 1998 team played just as exciting football and also the 2002 team too. Rememeber too that unlike the 2004 team , THEY BOTH won the double. But WHERE THE 2004 PROVED THEIR FINAL SUPERIORITY WAS IN THEIR REFUSAL TO LOSE GAMES. This teak tough and real he man toughness, so tragically absent for the last decade, is so vital in any team sport. And under Emery- glory be- it is fast being returned, though clearly, certain players will need to be moved on before the WHOLE team can once again be regarded as teak tough. I could mention names but I guess those who are honest with ourselves know in our hearts exactly WHO needs to toughen up or leave. Don’t they Mesut?(and others TOO)

    1. Kenny Rolfe says:

      And the most influential player Jon, Without doubt, the great Dennis Bergkamp.

      1. Andrew E says:

        I agree, I haven’t seen a better player in all the years I’ve supported this great club. He had everything, technique, vision, power, goals and a mean streak. I don’t think we will ever see his like again in an Arsenal shirt.

        1. Kenny Rolfe says:

          I agree with you Andrew, in 60 tears supporting our great club. for me, the greatest ever player.

          1. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Sorry, lol, years not tears although there’s been some of them in that time.

  7. jon fox says:

    Dan, Glad to see you still contributing articles after your recent article questioning why you and other writers suffer so much abuse. Which sadly is true. You need guts to keep going when many throw barbs at you. And you clearly HAVE guts, so more power to your elbow. This is a most interesting article and A WELL CHOSEN SUBJECT. Anyone else who is reading this , please don’t be shy to praise article writers (or those who post too) when it is deserved. I have given as much stick as anyone , I admit, but praise goes a long way. Not many have Dan’s guts to keep going, so well done Dan. You are the man! Composing and writing articles is a difficult job and not given to many!

    1. Dan says:

      Yeah thanks Jon Fox
      Would take alot to stop me writing on here
      I was just taking opportunity during international break to write about something serious
      But don’t worry, I’m gravy lol

  8. Phil says:

    George Graham’s 1991 Title winnin side lost just one game that season.Away to Chelsea.Tony Adams was enjoying a mid-season break curtesy of HM Prison Service and we had a point deduction for the Battle of Old Traffordand still won at a canter.That side never got the credit it was due in my opinion and would have given anyone a game (or a fight if they wanted that).
    But that 2002 double winning side had everything.How Wenger failed in The Champions League with that team at that time is something that must disappoint him more than any other season including the 2006 Final.

    1. jon fox says:

      Hi Phil I am old school and it seems you are too in most ways. What that ’91 team had was a toughness few have ever matched. A defence that knew how to defend. Much of my personal loathing of WENGER FOR SO LONG HAS BEEN HIS WILFUL REFUSAL TO CONSIDER DEFENCE TO BE AS VITAL AS YOU AND I BOTH KNOW IT IS. George Graham though was his polar opposite and gave us the best Arsenal defence of all time, BEYOND QUESTION. To my mind and I believe yours too, is the certain knowledge that both defence and attack are equally vital if you are going to win -or even seriously challenge – for the title. I personally believe this refusal to take defence seriously for an entire last decade, disqualifies WENGER FROM BEING , IN MY VIEW AT LEAST, OUR GREATEST MANAGER. Herbert Chapman for me, then George Allison. Ratio of honours won to years in charge means that Allison, prior to the war, and George Graham BOTH won more than WENGER. Though not Chapman; BUT he built our club to the worlds best from nothing , whereas WENGER INHERITED A RECENTLY SLEEPING GIANT, WHICH WAS FAR EASIER TO REGAIN GLORY. And silverware HAS to be the defining factor as to the true greatest , NOW that we have been a giant club ever since early thirties, though back then , what Chapman did in every way and without all the advantages of worldwide publicity in seconds( thanks to modern technology), made Chapman the undoubted number one. In my view WENGER WAS A GREAT MANAGER FOR TEN YEARS AND A ROTTEN ONE FOR HIS LAST TEN YEARS. TOTALLY AGREE ABOUT THE 2002 SIDE TOO.

  9. Phil says:

    JF-I’m with you on most of what you say but of coursed you were lucky enough to go to the games when Chapman and Allison were managers.
    That 1991 side had everything and that was a tough old league that year.The nerd in me just had to look up the table after I sent that post.
    Won 24 Drew 13 lost 1
    Scored 74 (second to Liverpool 77)
    Conceded 18
    Goal difference of 56
    Spuds finished 10th with goal difference of +1
    How did we lose that Semi-Final?(No David Hillier that’s why)?
    That team had everything and George Graham SHOULD have gone on to build a dynasty but of course it just never happened.
    And there will NEVER be a better defence EVER in this country to match that team.Like you I was likely to have been at most of those games and we used to power our way to get the results.But we had flair and skill everywhere in that team with youth and experience giving us the perfect balance.
    What I loved about George Graham was he NEVER put any player above the team.Out from the 1989 title winning side was Lukic Richardson Hayes Quinn Marwood.No sentiment.He demanded results and got them.The way he moved that team on from 1989 to 1991 was exactly how a Manager SHOULD perform.Fergusson did this every two years.Wenger never did this after 2006 and that is why he eventually failed.He was just too loyal to players that continually under performed and too lacking in strict management.

    1. Kenny Rolfe says:

      Oooh Phil, below the belt, No, great posting Guys, loved the read

      1. Phil says:

        You would have been at those games Kenny-George Graham had that defence DRILLED.Thats how to Coach a Title winning side.Never once that season did I ever feel we would lose a game.Every player knew their job within the team.They used to say Graham was a defensive Coach but what he did was ensure we were tight at the back.Going forward we had everything.Rocastle Davies Merson Limpar Smith Thomas.And to only concede 18 League goals and score 74 showed how good that side was.
        It’s a shame some of the younger fans on this site will probably not appreciate that it was a George Graham who set up the basis of the team that Wenger inherited.To have a back four that first won the title in 1989 and the same four defenders (with Keown brought back to the Club) all there 9 years later to win the Double in 1998 was solely down to George.

        1. Kenny Rolfe says:

          I’ve always said Jon, If George Graham had 20 goes at the Champions League we’d have at least 3 or 4 under our belt.

          1. Kenny Rolfe says:

            Sorry, Phil……

  10. Andrew E says:

    The Arsenal Invincibles have to be the greatest English league team of all time not only were they undefeated over a full season of 38 games they put together a run of 49 matches without defeat.

    Preston NE were undefeated in an inaugural 22 game league in 1888/89. The league was made up of mainly Midland and North England teams of which Accrington was one (Source: Wikipedia). An achievement no doubt but compared to Arsenal in a highly competitive league, I don’t think so.

    For me that team was an amalgam of George Graham’s 1989 team and Wenger’s 2002, flair mixed with a do or die attitude. Still makes me and my son proud to be a Gunners. Nobody can take that away from us nor the fact that next year is the centenary of our continuous participation in the English top flight, another record.

  11. Andrew E says:


    Lauren Campbell Toure Cole

    Ljungberg Viera Gilberto Pires



    I would back this team against ANY of the current EPL teams. Probably six or seven world class footballers in that squad. The standout players were Campbell, Cole, Viera, Bergkamp and Henry but any of the rest would walk into our current squad.

    1. Andrew E says:

      Sorry, I should have included Pires!!

  12. Uwot? says:

    Got an idea ? You can f**k right off.Manure in 1999 greatest prem team ever? R u avin a larf?i rememember that season v.well.talk about luck of the devil?they were the jamiest bunch you could ever assemble.should have gone out at leat 3 times in cl.got battered in the final by Bayern.nicked/stole it at the death with the jammiest goal you’ll ever see.we should have turfed them out of the fa cup semi.bergkamp missing a penalty at the death.They won the title by one f***ng point! Pleassssssssssse!The greatest prem team ever were The Invincibles.id back them in a one off match against any of the so callled contenders any day of the week.we had at least 6 world class players & I use that in in era when everyone is described that these days.it sticks in the throat of the spud,chav,mancs & dippers that we achieved that feat.believe me.they will use any stats they can find to denigrate it.but let them try.we know the truth…

    1. Phil says:

      @Uwot-I am loving the Manc hatred.Im like you.I try not to say a good word about them ever.

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Some great posts today, Phil, Jon, Andrew E, Uwot etc

        1. Andrew E says:

          And yours Kenny.

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