In the history of English football, there are few clubs with more history than Arsenal. The Gunners have spent the most consecutive seasons in the English top flight, having suffered relegation just once. Only Everton have spent more seasons in the English top-flight than the Gunners.
However, it’s not just their longevity that Arsenal are famous for, as they have also been highly successful in the English top flight. Manchester United and Liverpool are the clubs in the top flight that can better the Gunners title tally of 13.
2003 / 2004
It has been a while since the club from north London was crowned champions of England. The Gunners’ last title came in season 2003/04 under the management of legendary French boss Arsene Wenger.
The season has gone in the history books, as it was the one in which Arsenal went unbeaten for a whole campaign, a feat achieved only once before in the English top-flight by Preston North End in the inaugural season of the First Division in season 1888/89. The unbeaten run earned the Gunners title-winning team the nickname ‘The Invincibles’.
The team from north London finished the season with 90 points, 11 ahead of second-place Chelsea. The league campaign wasn’t all plain sailing, though, as despite finishing the season unbeaten, they drew 12 of their 36 games in the Premier League.
However, Wenger’s team mounted a nine-game winning streak that negated the draws that season. One of the most memorable games of Arsenal’s season came with a 5-0 home hammering of Leeds United.
Somewhat unusually, Arsenal had made just one summer signing in the shape of German international goalkeeper Jens Lehmann from Dortmund. He was an inspired replacement for one of the Gunners’ most iconic goalkeepers, David Seaman.
The former BVB star played a major role in Arsenal having the defensive record in the league, as the champions conceded just 26 goals in winning the title. In attack, Arsenal were also the top scorers in the division, scoring 76 goals.
The Gunners were less successful in the cup competitions. They suffered a semi-final defeat against Middlesbrough in the League Cup while suffering an FA Cup loss to Manchester United in the last four, having won the competition in the two previous seasons.
Their Champions League campaign ended in the quarter-finals with a 3-2 aggregate defeat against London rivals Chelsea.
While the team thrived and made history, individuals earned recognition at the end-of-season awards.
Lehmann proved to be a stellar signing, it was the man at the other end of the pitch that stole the headlines, as French international Thierry Henry won the Premier League Golden Boot with 30 goals. The season was the most prolific of the forward’s football career, as he scored 39 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions. He also produced a league-high 20 assists in the Premier League in the title-winning campaign.
The goals were enough to see Henry win the PFA Players Player of the Year award for a second season in a row. His compatriot and boss, Arsene Wenger, also won the prestigious LMA Manager of the Year award.
Another of Henry’s compatriots, Patrick Vieira, was also nominated for the Players Player of the Year award, while youngster Kolo Toure was nominated for the Young Player of the Year award, which Chelsea’s Scott Parker eventually won.
Arsenal’s incredible season was also underlined by the fact that the Gunners had six players in the Premier League Team of the Year. Henry and Vieira were joined in the select 11 by Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell and Robert Pires.
A long title drought
The Gunners have endured a long title drought, which has lasted close to two decades. The team from north London came close to retaining their crown as English champions in season 2004/05. However, the best they could do was finish as runners-up in the English top flight.
Since then, Arsenal have also finished second place in season 2015/16 before also finishing second place in season 2022/23. The runner-up position in the latter season was particularly frustrating for everybody associated with the club, as at one stage of the season, they held a big lead at the top of the table over reigning champions Manchester City.
The performances and results under Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta in recent seasons have raised expectations that the Gunners could end their long title drought in the near future. Only time will tell us if the former club captain can be the manager to guide them to title glory once again.
Do you remember Arsenal’s ‘Invincible’ season?