Arsene Wenger and the Invincibles

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Arsenal had won the FA Cup but lost the league title to Man Utd in 2003

The entire season unbeaten

Robert Pires Copyright Doha Stadium Plus Qatar and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
Robert Pires

Wenger’s greatest achievement came in the 2003/4 season when his side won the league without suffering a single defeat. Spurred on by the hurt of losing their title the previous season, Arsenal played at a level incomparable to anything that had gone before.

Arsene Wenger
Arriving at Highbury
The Invincibles
Football’s Greatest Managers

Thierry Henry had become one of the best strikers in world football and he inspired them to win after win as they ran away with the league. It is a feat that is unique in the modern era across all of Europe’s big footballing leagues.

Arsenal continued their unbeaten run into the next season and broke Nottingham Forest’s record of 42 top flight games unbeaten. They extended that record to 49 games before eventually being beaten by old foes Man Utd at Old Trafford.

In 2005 Arsenal missed out on the title to emerging force, Chelsea, who were being funded by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. They did lift the FA Cup again though after beating Man Utd in a penalty shootout after a goalless draw in what was Patrik Vieira’s last game for the club.

So close to landing the big one

In 2006 Wenger nearly led Arsenal to the biggest trophy in club football when they got to the Champions League final only to be defeated by Barcelona. It was a remarkable achievement to reach the final as Wenger spent much of the European campaign sending out a makeshift defence due to long term injuries to Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell.

They knocked out European heavyweights Real Madrid and Juventus on their way to the final and incredibly kept a clean sheet in all six of their games during the knockout stages.

They nearly pulled off the unthinkable in the final when they played most of the match with only ten men. After the dismissal of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann Arsenal took an unlikely lead through Sol Campbell before eventually being defeated in the closing stages of the game.

60,000 seat stadium and Champions League football

Wenger has struggled to keep Arsenal competing for the biggest trophies over the last few years as they pay off the mortgage on their new Emirates stadium.

Theo Walcott Copyright Ronnie Macdonald and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
Theo Walcott

Never one to spend big money on players, Wenger now has to battle to keep hold of his best players due to the strict wage structure at the club and the failure to deliver any trophies.

First Vieira, Cole and Henry left in search of trophies and it began a trend. Arsenal now struggle to keep their best players happy while they go through this period of transition. More recently Adebayor, Toure, Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri have departed to richer clubs.

Wenger has recently had to sell his best player every summer to balance the books and maintain harmony in the squad. To keep recovering and rebuilding his team is as impressive as any of his achievements.

He has overseen the move to Arsenal’s new home and managed to keep the team in the top four of the Premier League. He is constantly looking to the future to develop younger players into first team regulars such as Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshire and build a squad capable of seriously challenging for the Premier League once again.

Arsene Wenger
Arriving at Highbury
The Invincibles
Football’s Greatest Managers