2003–04 Arsenal F.C. season
The 2003-04 season was the 106th in the history of Arsenal Football Club. It began on 1 July 2003 and concluded on 30 June 2004, with competitive matches played between August and May. The club ended the Premier League campaign as champions without a single defeat – a record of 26 wins and 12 draws. Arsenal finished the previous season as runners-up in the league.
About 2003–04 Arsenal F.C. season in brief
The 2003–04 season was the 106th in the history of Arsenal Football Club. It began on 1 July 2003 and concluded on 30 June 2004, with competitive matches played between August and May. The club ended the Premier League campaign as champions without a single defeat – a record of 26 wins and 12 draws. Arsenal fared less well in the cups, eliminated in the FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals to Manchester United and Middlesbrough respectively. The main addition to the first team was goalkeeper Jens Lehmann for £1. 5 million; striker José Antonio Reyes was later purchased in the winter transfer window. 34 different players represented the club in five competitions and there were 15 different goalscorers. Arsenal’s top goalscorer for the third year running was Thierry Henry, who scored 39 goals in 51 games. In the summer, Chelsea was sold to billionaire Roman Abramovich for £140 million, the biggest takeover in British football history at the time. The team lost to Everton a month after Wenger’s proclamation; teenager Wayne Rooney scored the match winner, which ended a run of 30 league games without defeat. By February 2003, Arsenal moved five points clear of Manchester United at the top of the league table, but injuries to key players, not least captain Patrick Vieira, had destabilised the team. Draws in April, coupled with a defeat to Leeds United at home, mathematically ended Arsenal’s chances of retaining the title. In 2012, the Arsenal team of 2003-04 won the ‘Best Team’ category in the Premier League 20 Seasons Awards.
The club was awarded a golden replica trophy by the Premier Premier League once the season concluded and they remained unbeaten for 49 games, setting a new record. The Frenchman was given the accolade of PFA Players’ Player of the Year by his fellow peers and the FWA Footballer of the year by football writers. In November, Arsenal beat Dynamo Kyiv by a single goal and more impressively scored five against Inter Milan at the San Siro – two results which kick-started their Champions League campaign. Arsenal finished the previous season as runners-up in the Premier League, overhauled by Manchester United in the final ten weeks of the season. Manager Arsène Wenger suggested his team could remain the whole season undefeated in all competitions: It’s not impossible as A. C. Milan once did it but I can’t see why it’s so shocking to say it. Do you think Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea don’t dream that as well? They’re exactly the same. They just don’t say it because they’re scared to look ridiculous, but nobody is ridiculous in this job as we know anything can happen. Wenger refuted opinions from the media that their season was a failure and said: Of course we want to win the league, but I think the difficult thing for the club is to be remarkably consistent. We lose the most money to teams who spend 50% more money every year.
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