Why Arsenal’s Invincibles Remains the Premier League’s Greatest Ever

Arsene’s Invincibles: Why the Arsenal Team of 2003/04 Remains the Premier League’s Greatest

In the 2003/04 season, Arsenal did something that only one other team had done in the history of the top flight of English football and were the first in the Premier League to achieve it. That was to go an entire season without losing a single league match.

Much like Preston North End in the first ever football league season in 1888/89, the Arsenal team became known as ‘The Invincibles’ and ensured their place in football history.

With Manchester City smashing records in lifting the title in 2017/18, the debate has restarted about which team is the greatest to ever play in the Premier League.

A recent blog post by Betway lists the City team from 2017/18, Chelsea’s 2004/05 team, two strong Manchester United squads, and Arsenal’s Invincibles as the best five to ever grace the Premier League.

Going an entire season unbeaten alone must puts Arsenal at the top of that list in the eyes of many, although there are other factors which also go in Arsenal’s favour.

Statistics from Arsenal’s Invincibles

Statistics from Arsenal’s Unbeaten Season

The Manager

Arsene Wenger was a revolutionary when he first came to England in 1996, completely changing Arsenal’s style of play and turning them into an exciting attacking team who remained responsible at the back.

His tactics were astute on and the onus was put on his own players to perform to a specific style of play, instead of adapting to the opposition. He wanted total football and that is what he got from his team throughout the 2003/04 campaign.

The Players

The squad in 2003/04 was full of exceptionally talented international players who knew exactly what the manager wanted and played a specific role in creating a great team. It wasn’t about individuals, it was about a collective unit all pulling in the same direction.

Thierry Henry had been the club’s top scorer for four seasons prior to the unbeaten season and finished top the scoring table again with thirty league goals as Arsenal finished champions for the third time in seven seasons.

Although Henry was the stand out player, he had a fantastic supporting cast. This included Robert Pires, Arsenal’s second highest goal scorer that season with fourteen league goals, Patrick Vieira, Kolo Toure, Sol Campbell, Dennis Bergkamp, Freddie Ljungberg, Ashley Cole, Jens Lehmann, and Gilberto Silva.

Every player who appeared in an Arsenal shirt that season ensured the team ethic remained and that total football was always first and foremost in their minds.

The Opposition

Manchester City broke several records in the 2017/18 season, but their rivals may have given them a helping hand on the way to the title, with several slip-ups from the top teams along the way.

When Arsenal won the title in 2003/04, they did so by overcoming a strong challenge from Chelsea, who picked up enough points to have won the title in three of the seven seasons before 03/04.

It was a Chelsea side full of fantastic players, such as Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Hernan Crespo, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, which formed the spine of the team that would become champions and one of the greatest ever just one season after Arsenal’s unbeaten campaign.

In third place that season was Manchester United, with players like Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs who had helped them dominate the English game for so long. In fact, the entire top six had teams strong enough to challenge the best teams in Europe at the time and that made Arsenal’s achievements that little bit more special.

The Results

It doesn’t matter what else happens in the world of football, the one thing that matters most is results and Arsenal went an entire season unbeaten. City lost twice in 2017/18, and were a late penalty miss away from a third defeat away at Crystal Palace. Chelsea lost just the once in 2004/05, but it was a defeat nonetheless. United lost three times in 1998/99 and five times in 2007/08.

Remaining unbeaten for thirty-eight league matches is a feat which no other Premier League team has ever managed and despite City’s dominance this year, they still fell short of the mark regarding this particular feat. It remains to be seen if another Premier League team will ever achieve what Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ managed to do in 2003/4, a season which no Arsenal fan will ever forget.

Updated: June 1, 2018 — 8:30 am


  1. Those were the days… we were bloody awesome & I loved every minute of it!

    1. I’m curious to see whether Emery would play more direct like the Invicibles and his PSG team, or would he continue with Wenger’s style because he inherited Wenger’s players

      1. We’ll have to wait & see….

  2. Yeh brings back great memories fantastic manager and team it’s a shame we will never see a arsenal team that great again and will always have to refer back to the good old days where we had world class players and a team that had leaders and would go to war for each other now just a few good players accompanied by average and poor ones!!

  3. You forget to mention how much Arsenals invincible squad actually cost compared to that of Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City. The entire squad was less than what City paid for Kyle Walker

    1. We have to calculate the inflations as well

      The price Arsenal paid for Henry in 1999 was around eleven millions, which could be worth more than thirty millions in today’s transfer market

      1. Inflation in football is different to economic inflation. The only reason there are ridiculous fees is because of oil rich clubs. They stop other clubs becoming stronger by pricing them out of any transfer. How many players have Man City signed who had strong links to us as well as players they destabilized at our club.

        Wenger bought almost all of his players who were unknown or careers were faltering. Reyes, Gilberto, Ljungberg, Viera, Wiltord, Toure, Lauren, Henry(career dying at juve), Cole(from our youth team).
        The only known signings really were Lehmann, Campbell on a free Pires 7mil.

        City an Chelsea bought ready made and paid top wack to stop any competition. The players like our invincible are still out there ready to be plucked out for small fees Kante to Leicester is a great example. Look at city now, 70 million for Mahrez do they need him no, is he worth that no where near, but other clubs want him so city price em out.

        1. Once Man City materialize Mahrez deal, I hope Arsenal could snatch one of their young and pacy wingers

        2. Good response James. I can see gotanidea has no idea on how counter your reply so he came with flimsy one of we taking one of their wingers they got Marhrez as if that is going cheap and indirectly helping them to pay for him.

  4. The Invicibles were great because they didn’t lose a game, but Ranieri’s Leicester City were also great because they won with very limited resources

    The current competition level is not the same as the Invicibles era, where they only had Chelsea and Man United as their super rich opponents. Today they have to compete with the abundant budget of Man City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Man United and Chelsea

    If Arsenal can win in the next season with a very limited transfer budget, it would be a special achievement (despite Arsenal are not as poor as the old Leicester City, because they already have players that are worth 200 millions)

  5. To me that was a mile stone,the team starting from the Manager Arsene,every one respected one another both on the pitch and off the pitch,this you could see it right from the training time and playing time,every player was very happy,I think they (players) especially Patric our captain by then knew that time was up to move to other club and then made sure they leave something I mean a mark as Arsenal Legends an YES that was archived,whole season unbeaten,premier league champions and THAT WAS A MARK, NO TEAM IN ENGLAND will ever do that I believe…I WILL DIE A GUNNER BECAUSE I WAS BORN A GUNNER

  6. Invincible campaign was the greatest ever I saw because of mentally and physical players. They fought and dominated the league like lions.

  7. It’s very sad all the arsenal fans can do nothing but talk about the past yes we did achieve something incredible..those where the days..but it hurts a lot now..each day I woke up I see transfer news not a single decent player is signed by us..and our rivals r getting stronger but board is still penny pinching

    1. There has been nothing else to talk about!! If you want to talk about today’s team one word depressing!!

      1. Break-on-through

        That French kid looks like he’s gonna be a very decent player. 17 yet he looks more mature already than Walcott Oxlade or the many others we waited on. Good ability, he can pass, dribble, stick players on their back, creative and strong. I only seen his clips but I’d already give him a shot over Xhaka, not as CDM, Xhaka took Cazorla spot so this lad might take Xhaka. I hope we get him, it’s been a while since I seen Arsenal sign a genuinely promising young player, one who the biggest clubs have all taken notice of. We need to get this done because a genuine youth prospect from France is a bit different from most others from elsewhere in Europe. Also we should not let Tott get Legit, whatever his name is off Ajax. They have a good record with defenders out that way we should not let them get him if he is worth close to 50m already.

  8. Nostalgia is in the air.
    Such a long time ago.
    Then things changed big time.
    Mou won 3 titles Fergie 5
    Mancini Pelegrini Guadiola Ancelotti Conte Ranieri 1 each.
    Wenger never won again.
    To be fair a 100 other managers failed to win the title since ’04.
    Unai has a huge task to make top 4 let alone win the title.
    With the quality of players and the superstar managers
    in the PL this seasons edition promises to be stellar.
    Zidane to Chelsea would ramp up the EPL to epic proportions.

  9. Arsenal fans: invincibles are the best
    Chelsea fans: Chelsea 04/05 are the best
    Man utd fans: man utd treble winners are the best
    City fans: city 17/18 are the best
    Me: does it matter now?

    1. Break-on-through

      Neutrals: overall Arsenal was the top pick.

      Now am not sure, allot of younger fans who haven’t seen us and there’s also many who will believe a Wenger related lie than believe he could create the best ever.

      It’s easy to see why we were so formidable, imagine even today that we were basically the only side in Europe looking at France’s young players, Italian teams did too but they didn’t know what they had. Then we have a man with league experience who came from the club with the best academy in France. Not to mention that France generation was the best in recent memory and maybe the best ever. Also he looked to the Dutch league, the two best countries for finding young stars in the making at that time. With that he already had Arsenal defence who could play in their sleep and not concede. Everything just fell into place nicely.

  10. Break-on-through

    For me Chelsea’s team comes closest to the Invincibles. Like us they had many answers. They could play great football when needed, also as hard as nails if needed, they done what it took to win. We were better at playing attractive football but we were similar in how many answers we had. This city team, too many changes in rules to properly compare city. Manu, because of all the decisions they received and they did get them there is no going around it, it’s hard to say just how terrific they were. I do believe Fergie is the greatest manager but not necessarily did he have the top stand out side. I believe Fergie could have done more had he certain Arsenal individuals, and they prob wouldn’t have needed so many calls go in his favor. Would Pep’s team still do what they do in a time when you could tell all managers to have their team kick them to put them off their rhythm, would they be so confident if a leg or two got snapped in half. Players today have more protection and that will help a speedy ball playing team. Then there is that offside change, that is a huge advantage for today’s players, just one foot on wrong side from any player and the move is broken.

  11. In terms of football purism Arsenal Invicibles and this seasons Man City were clear winners in the football they played. Chelsea and even Utd never quite reached the art and ‘dance’ of our wonderful invincible. Could De Bruyne, Aquerro and Silva stand comparison with Henry, Pires and Bergkamp. It’s a pretty obvious no and nothing else needs to be said. Even with the wealthiest teams ever nobody will achieve the artistry of the Invincibles. They were respected by everyone.
    As an aside, since Kroenke has been owner we have become a relatively weak team, slipping downwards. Until he leaves or is forced out Arsenal CANNOT become great again. He is Arsenal’s worst nightmare.

  12. It doesnt matter

  13. The invincible, the greatest in EPL. Hmmn, that was the past, present is what matters, l guess and I believe that the problem is with Stan Kroenke.

  14. I disagree .
    City’s team of this season was better .
    To accumulate 100 points ,win by 19 points .
    Against the elite teams of Liverpool man u Tottenham even chelski ,these are European elite teams now. They beat real juventus . even against durable talented teams like burnley .

    Back then our competition was inferior-
    City did it in a far more competitive league which has progressed .
    Also they had 4 draws we had 12 .

    It was a fantastic achievement but I rate city’s more .

    1. You have to remember Muffdiver that City’s team is based on proven quality and a whole lot of money. Arsenal’s team was worth a fraction of City’s and even then, most of the EPL were difficult to beat (Blackburn, Bolton United etc.)

  15. Greta article. We may never see another team go unbeaten again..

    Certainly not Arsenal as it looks like the £50 million budget is true (Shakhtar Donetsk’s Bernard to Arsenal as a FREE agent). Add the gossip of the other players being linked to Arsenal right now!?

    Not to be pessimistic but I’m not brimming with confidence that we will be even close to the Invincible’s for the foreseeable future!!

  16. Muff diver.it was TheInvincibles over citeh.no question.what often goes missing in this debate is that it’s looked at over one season.which is the point.but if you come at it from another angle.they went 49 games unbeaten & shamelessly robbed of a further record at old toilet 50th & counting who knows.how far it would have gone on.but ultimately who would you put your money on in a head to head.i know who’d I back.curiously in a combination side.how many citeh players would there be.for me three.kompany,de bruyne & silva.

  17. such moments will never be seen again at arsenal though i believe that it will win again EPL in two seasons to come but the invisible’s brilliancy shall never be attained again.

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