The Arsenal side of 2003/2004 is quite rightly regarded as one of the greatest in Premier League and English League history – going through a 38 game season without losing a single match is something no other team has managed to do, and despite those with an agenda trying to make out they weren’t one of the best sides ever, there is no doubting that sides place in the history books.
But I would say that the Arsenal team of 2001/2002 was even better.
How is this possible you ask? Consider the following points:
Regarding our nearest rivals at the time Manchester United, The Invincibles team we drew 1-1 at home against them and then drew 0-0 away. In 2001/2002 season, we beat them convincingly 3-1 at home and then won 1-0 away (Wiltooooord!)
In The Invincible season, we scored 73 goals. In the 2001/2002 season, we managed to score 79.
In the 2001/2002 season, we had a peak Dennis Bergkamp, who scored 14 goals (his highest total since the 1997/1997 season). In The Invincibles season, he only scored 5 times.
Our attack was more lethal in the 2001/2002 season, with Henry, Bergkamp, Kanu and Wiltord scoring a combined total of 69 goals. In The Invincibles season, that total was 51. We had more attacking options in 2001/2002 that the opposition couldn’t handle.
In The Invincibles season, we won the Premier League. In the 2001/2002 season, we won the double.
Defensively we were much stronger in the 2001/2002 season as well – we had Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Sol Campbell and Matthew Upson as our central defensive options. In The Invincibles season, we had Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure, Pascal Cygan and an ageing Martin Keown.
There is no doubt that in the 2001/2002 season we had a better Ashley Cole, Lauren, Patrick Vieira, Edu, Ray Parlour, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, Sylvain Wiltord and Kanu who all statistically did better than they did in The Invincibles season.
And finally to finish, we have to consider the strength of the league at in both of those seasons.
The fact of the matter is the Premier League in the 2001/2002 season was much tougher to win, as shown by the number of points gained by the Top 4 sides in those seasons. The gap between 1st and 2nd was only 7 points, and the difference between 1st and 4th was 16 points.
1st: 87 2nd: 80 3rd: 77 4th: 71
In The Invincibles season however, Arsenal won the league by 11 points and 4th place were were a massive 30 points behind!
1st: 90 2nd: 79 3rd: 75 4th: 60
So what are you thoughts on this topic? Do you agree? Leave your comments in the section below!
As the world around us is falling apart, I thought I would try and take our minds off it all for a moment and relive some of the great Arsenal games of the past.
14 years ago today, on March 29th 2006, Arsenal hosted a Juventus side including none other that our illustrious former captain, Patrick Vieira. Vieira had left the previous summer, after clinching a dramatic FA Cup win over arch rivals Manchester United with the crucial penalty that won us the trophy. 10 months later he was back at Highbury, but this time facing his old Arsenal teammates.
In midfield was a young man by the name of Cesc Fabregas.
The young Spaniard had been thrust into the first team following the departure of our captain, and the signs were there this boy was the real deal. We still had attacking forces such as Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and the late Jose Antonio Reyes banging in the goals, and Campbell and Toure marshalling the defence.
But this game would also be remembered for the heroic performances of Emmanuel Eboue, Philippe Senderos and Mathieu Flamini who were inexperienced and still very young players.
Below is the original match report and player ratings of that historic evening:
By The Time People Take Us Seriously It Will Be Far Too Late…
Arsenal in Europe have been simply immaculate. Partly this is because no-one gives us a chance, and then when we get a fanastic result we don’t get the credit we deserve. It might be annoying now but it can actually work in our favour…
Before the huge matches against Real Madrid, we were favourites to go out. Real were on an awesome run in the league and were scoring for fun. Robinho, Beckham, Zidane, Guti et al were all in great form and they were pitched against a side that couldn’t win back-to-back league fixtures against midtable opposition, couldn’t win or score away and had major injury problems.
So how were Arsenal going to fare in the Bernabeu, the place no English side has ever won before?
We pulled off a great team performance and left with a 1-0 win – and we should have had more. Even in the 2nd leg against Real Reyes was guilt of missing several guilt-edged chances and we had the clearer opportunities. Still, we progressed after defeating one of Europe’s superpowers.
Then to the tie against Juventus.
As you will have heard from almost everywhere, they are 8 points clear in Serie A with 7 games remaining, and cruising a league which includes a great team like AC Milan.
And Arsenal are 6th in the Premiership.
But Arsenal dominated the entire game against the old lady, who supposedly had our best player of recent times – Patrick Vieira – at their disposal.
But football is a team game – and as we have shown against Real we play together to devastating effect.
Across Europe, teams think that we are just a one man team with Henry. They don’t realise how efficient and effective the rest of the team are. Players like Hleb, Reyes, Fabregas and Pires will make those runs that create holes in any defense.
Juventus were surprised at Arsenal’s approach, and from the first minute could not cope with the pace of the game. Arsenal have a team full of young, hungry, determined and energetic players. While the Juventus team are full of experienced players who have won the World Cup, European Championships and countless domestic titles.
That is the difference.
Arsenal wanted it more last night, and you can talk about the absence of Pavel Nedved and Del Piero, but they wouldn’t had made a difference. Anyway, we had Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Lauren, Ljungberg and loads of others out.
We had Flamini our 8th left-back this season in the 1st eleven! But to be fair, the young Frenchman has been brilliant every game he has played, and as stupid as this sounds I wouldn’t be bothered if Wenger got Â£15 million for Cashley and kept Flamini at left-back!
He has hunger, pace, determination and has proven himself in the Premiership, as well as against Real Madrid and Juventus.
He’s been a fantastic player for us.
Anyway, here’s my player ratings for the match last night…
Jens Lehmann: 7/10 Nothing to do except intercept a couple of crosses midway through the second half. But did well when called upon, which was hardly ever because of the solid defensive unit.
Emmanuel Eboue: 7/10 Did well again, and it’s hard to believe the kid only made his Premiership debut 6 weeks ago! I think Lauren is a really good player but I can’t see him getting back into the side the way the young Ivory Coast international is playing. As usual, made great forward runs and had Mutu in his back pocket.
Kolo Toure: 9/10 Exceptional. The tricky Ibrahimovic managed to get the ball on several occasions but Toure made some awesome tackles. A real captain’s performance.
Philippe Senderos: 8/10 His partnership with Toure just keeps getting better and better and so much so that I’m not bothered if Sol Campbell ever returns. So hungry against last night and he even chased a few lost balls all the way to Buffon in the first half. Threw himself at everything and made Trezeguet look like pedestrian.
Mathieu Flamini: 8/10 Is this guy a left-back? So assured again you don’t want this guy to be on the bench when Cole returns. Made those attacking runs to support Reyes and they work well together on the left. Camoranesi look frustrated all game which ended in a cynical red card.
Alexander Hleb: 7/10 Struggled against Zambrotta in the first half but picked up his game into the second. Never really captured his form against Real or Charlton but played some nice passes, including the beautifully weighted ball for Fabregas to assist Henry’s goal.
Gilberto Silva: 8/10 Covered well to give Fabregas and Pires attacking freedom, and helped out the back four superbly. A couple of mislayed passes now and then but he’s there to keep Juventus quiet, and Vieira and Emerson didn’t get a sniff.
Francesc Fabregas: 9/10 Made Vieira look small. The pre-match hype was all about Vieira and he told everyone that time moves on at there is no time for regrets. How right our old captain was. Times change Patrick, and unfortunately you’re not part of it anymore. Great assist for Henry’s goal. Cesc was absolutely Fabregas!
Jose Antonio Reyes: 8/10 I loved his dedication last night. Whatever you say about Jose, he will run until his legs fall off and will always give 110%. Made Camoranesi look foolish at times and was never afraid to take on players.
Robert Pires: 9/10 Won’t get all the headlines but played out of his skin. Marked Vieira well and I was shocked as anyone when he won a header in our own area after about 20 minutes. I was even more shocked when he made THAT tackle on Vieira that started the move for Cesc’s goal. Good movement, good passing and great support play. Excellent performance.
Thierry Henry: 9/10 Really loves it when Arsenal are against it. Might not celebrate all his goals with pure rage anymore but after he scored Arsenal’s second he went ballistic! Took the goal every well on the turn and really came to life in the second half. Frustrated Juventus as the game wore on and with a few minutes to go Zebina just had enough of him and got sent off.
Vieira to Pires, Pires to Henry, Henry to Fabregas – GOAL!
It has been weeks in the making, but today marks the day that Arsenal finally decided to relieve Unai Emery of his duties as Arsenal’s head coach.
In a dignified and complimentary statement, Emery posted a letter of thanks to everyone at Arsenal – the players, the staff and the fans. His statement said:
It has been an honour to be the Arsenal head coach.
To all the fans, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for helping me to understand and feel the greatness of Arsenal. To all of you who have supported us from every corner of the globe, all of you who have come to the Emirates, all of you who have waited in the rain and cold just to greet me after a game. I want to tell all of you that I have worked with passion, with commitment and with effort.
I would have liked nothing more than to have achieved better results for you.
I also want to send a message of gratitude to all Arsenal employees for the way they have treated me. The greatness of Arsenal is in every director, executive, employee, assistant and volunteer.
In particular, I want to highlight Ivan Gazidis, who welcomed me to the club, and Raul Sanllehi, Edu and Vinai Venkatesham for their respect, companionship and help. Until the very last minute I have been treated with honour and honesty. And of course, I send my sincere gratitude to the Kroenke family, for their trust.
It has been a year and a half full of emotions, of great moments and some other more bitter ones, but not a single day has gone by without me stopping to think about how lucky I have been to work for this club with these players and their professional and personal qualities.
They have always honoured the shirt they wear. They deserve your support.
I had already experienced a lot in football, but I have enjoyed and learned a lot in England, in the Premier League, about respect for professionals and about the purity of football.
My best wishes always.
At the end of the day, we all know the issues he had with the club which started in March, when we collapsed in the Premier League and really should have secured 4th place, and then collapsed again in the Europa League final.
Then there were issues with some of our players, including Mesut Özil, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette.
But for all his faults (and unfortunately, were just too many), he always carried himself well and is clearly, on a personal level at least, a perfect fit for Arsenal.
He is dignified in his manner, refuses to criticise his players, always remains positive and there’s no doubt he tried his absolute best.
Remind you of anyone?
So in that respect, we couldn’t have asked for any more – so thank you for your efforts Unai, and I truly mean that.
Despite the way things ended, without a win in 7 successive games, it wasn’t all bad times. We started last season unbeaten in 22 games, we looked like we were improving defensively and every Arsenal fan was on board with him and his ideas up until March / April time, just before things started to unravel.
Why didn’t things work out for Unai Emery?
Perhaps we expected too much from a manager who has a limited skillset. He has done well with smaller teams and maybe we needed a man who had more experience at the top top level, which is where we want to be. I do feel that the job was too big for him and that isn’t his fault. He’s taking over from a man who was not just at the club for 22 years, but was the person who moulded what the current club is all about in terms of outlook, ethos, traditions and values.
It’s a gargantuan task for anyone to take on.
You see David Moyes at Manchester United – he struggled badly there as well but it doesn’t suddenly mean he’s a bad manager. Alex Ferguson, the man who ran that club for decades had the opportunity to help select the manager he thought was best to take over at the club – so if a great like Sir Alex can make a mistake, then it’s not as if anyone saw this coming.
I really hope Emery takes some time off, takes time to reflect on his Arsenal experience and gets another job more suited to him.
Thank you for everything Unai, and I wish you all the best.
David Ornstein, the ultimate authority on all things Arsenal, has just revealed that the club are 100% behind Unai Emery and that he will not be sacked.
If this was from anyone else, I would be doubting these reports but as we all know, what Ornstein says is the truth.
So where do we go from here?
We’ve just lost to Leicester City, we’re 9 points off 4th place and our season is already on the way to being a complete disaster. Yet, the people making the big money at the club – Edu, Raul Sanllehi, Vinai Venkatesham and Josh Kroenke, are all supporting a manager who is clearly out of his depth.
What are they thinking? Do they not watch the same football we see week in week out? Are they ignoring all the hard statistics which show how awful our season is going? As another club owner has said before, what are they smoking over there at The Emirates?
The other sad part of all of this is that the board seem to think that the discontent from the fans is just ‘noise’ and that basically, what the fans think is irrelevant.
Well, if that’s the case then, we should stop going to the games and show the board that we’re serious in making sure the right decision is made at the club.
Because every man and their dog knows Arsenal are in free fall right now.
Look, it’s a sad state of affairs to let it get to this point and the whole Unai Emery / Arsenal captain situation was just a ridiculous sequence of mistakes. Letting the players vote for their captain? And then having 5 captains? What on earth was that all about?
Would I be sad or disappointed if Xhaka left Arsenal.
To be quite honest, no.
Personally I would be happy if he left, because while I’m sure he’s a nice enough guy, I feel that his influence on the team and the squad is too much. As I’ve posted previously, his influence at Arsenal is akin to John Terry at Chelsea. So if a figure like that left the club, I have no doubt that we would be in a much better place.
As well as that, he just isn’t good enough. He can’t tackle, doesn’t have any pace and can’t lead the team effectively. His presence in the team means that our midfield is already disadvantaged and pedestrian. Xhaka leaving Arsenal would solve a lot of our problems.
Plus, he’s still at an age where we’d get something back for him, so for me it’s a complete no brainer!
Let’s just hope he can find a suitor to stump up for him, and honestly if a team offered anything over £20 million, I’d snap their arm off.