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The Invincibles (Part Four)

Continuing the look back at some of the key matches as the Arsenal Invincible side went through the whole of the 2003 – 2004 season unbeaten. For Part One please click here. Part Two here; and Part Three here.

February 21, 2004, Chelsea v Arsenal

By 2004, Chelsea were beginning to emerge as one of the major forces in the English game. Roman Abramovich had bought the club the previous year, and the Russian millions were starting to make a difference on and off the pitch.

They would go on to finish runners-up that season, so this match at Stamford Bridge was very much a top of the table clash.

And it began in disastrous fashion for the Gunners when the home side took the lead after just 27 seconds.

Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira lost control in midfield and was made to pay when Geremi robbed him and crossed the ball for Eidur Gudjohnsen to control and fire past Jens Lehmann.

However, 14 minutes later Vieira redeemed himself, getting on the end of a finely weighted pass from Dennis Bergkamp played with the outside of the foot to side-foot past the Chelsea keeper.

And soon they were ahead. Goalkeeper Neil Sullivan failed to deal with a Thierry Henry corner, and Edu was able to turn the ball into the unguided net.

Chelsea pressed for an equaliser, but they found Sol Campbell a formidable barrier at the back,  and the home side’s hopes of getting back into the game suffered a big blow when they were reduced to ten men, Gudjohnsen getting a second yellow.

The Gunners saw out the rest of the match and went seven points clear at the top.

20 March 2004 Arsenal v Manchester United

Arsenal had gone 29 Premier League matches unbeaten by the time that Manchester United visited Highbury in March 2004.

After the fireworks of the match at Old Trafford in September, many expected a repeat, but this time, although it remained as competitive as matches between the two sides were at that time, things were more low key, and there were just two bookings in the entire match.

United went closest in the first-half, Eric Djemba-Djemba producing a moment of magic on the edge of the box to flick the ball over the head of Vieira, and then producing a powerful low shot that had Jens Lehmann at full stretch to keep out.

Jose Antonio Reyes then almost scored his first goal for the Gunners, only to be denied by the legs of Roy Carroll in the United goal.

Thierry Henry had gone close on a couple of occasions and finally made his mark in the 50th minute, when his long range shot dipped and swerved, giving Carroll no chance.

Alex Ferguson decided to freshen things up, bring striker Louis Saha off the bench and he provided the United equaliser four minutes from time, when he meta a right wing cross at the far home and slid in the equaliser.

Despite the disappointment of losing the late point, Arsenal had not only extended their unbeaten run, but they had also equalled Burnley’s record for the longest unbeaten streak within a season that had stood for 83 years.

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