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The Invincibles (Part Six)

Concluding the series looking at some of the key matches during the epoch-making 2003 – 2004 season which saw the Invincibles – the Arsenal side managed by Arsène Wenger – go through the entire league campaign unbeaten.

For Part One please click here; Part Two here; Part Three here‘ Part Four here; and Part Five here.

4th May 2004, Portsmouth v Arsenal

With the league title already secured, it was inevitable that there would be something of a drop off in performance levels, and the first match as newly crowned Champions was a goalless draw at home to Birmingham City.

It was in their next match away to Portsmouth, though, that the unbeaten run came under serious threat.

With the home side free from relegation that season, they had nothing to lose, making for an open and free flowing game. And it was the home side who took the lead when Yakubu seized on a loose ball and his clipped shot just crossed the line.

Thierry Henry then hit bar and post from the same shot, but four minutes after the start of the second half, the Gunners were level. A cross from Henry was only partially cleared to the edge of the penalty box, and Jose Antonio Reyes was on hand to lash the ball home.

It was end to end after that and, although Arsenal had their chances to win it, so did Portsmouth, Jens Lehmann quickly out to smother Yakubu when he was clean through, and Kolo Touré clearing a ball after it slipped out of Lehmann’s grasp.

Right at the end, Lehmann saved his side once more with a despairing dive to keep pot a free kick. The Gunners were happy to settle for a point in the end.

15th May 2004 Arsenal v Leicester City

Only already relegated Leicester City stood between Arsenal and history as kick-off approached on the last day of the season, with 25 matches already won and 12 drawn.

The home supporters were in party mood as the match began, but Leicester had not read the script, and they took a shock lead in the 28th minute through a former Arsenal player, Paul Dickov, who guided home a header.

Arsène Wenger was famous for keeping his cool during matches, but this was one of the few times that he lost his temper with his team at half-time, asking them if they wanted to throw away a season’s worth of work on the last match.

Stung by his words, they reappeared after the break with renewed energy, and, within two minutes they were level.

Ashley Cole broke into the box, was hauled back and the referee pointed to the spot. Thierry Henry made no mistake from 12 yards.

And midway through the second half they went ahead, fittingly through their captain Patrick Vieira, who picked up a through ball from Dennis Bergkamp and calmly applied the finish.

Finally, the celebrations could begin in earnest as Arsenal were content to play out the rest of the match.

The team had gone through the entire season unbeaten, making history in the process.

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