Definition of The Invincibles

What is the meaning of the term 'The Invincibles' when it comes to Arsenal football club and the English Premier League?


On May 15th 2004 when the whistle blew in the 90th minute of the game between Arsenal and Leicester, it marked the end to the most spectacular campaign in English Premier League history. Arsenal became only the second team in Premier League history to remain unbeaten throughout the season. The last time any side did it was Preston North End 115 years ago in the 1888-89 season. It was the last Arsenal side to win the League and had the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole. The Gunners had a clear 11-point lead over their nearest rivals, Chelsea, when the League ended.

The Gunners won 26 of the 38 matches they played and scored as many as 73 goals. A large chunk of those goals came from Thierry Henry (30) and Robert Pires (14). Dutchman Denis Bergkamp may have had just 4 goals to his credit but his amazing skills as a game-maker had a huge hand in the prolific scores of the two Frenchmen. Bergkamp's incisive through-passes and Henry's darting 20-yard run's along the flanks are part of Arsenal folklore. In fact, critics have dubbed the Henry-Bergkamp duo as the best forward combine in Premier League history.

Arsenal opened their League campaign with Everton with a 2-1 at Highbury, which was the Gunners' home ground then. An away game at Riverside Stadium saw them thrashing Middlesbrough 4-0. They followed that up with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa. In September 2004 the Gunners travelled to Old Trafford to face their first major test of the tournament. With the scoreline at 0-0, Manchester United were awarded a penalty from a Patrick Vieira foul on striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Arsenal were lucky to survive with a draw, as Nistelrooy's shot hit the bar and rebounded into play. After a 3-2 win over Newcastle, the Gunners proceeded to Anfield to face Liverpool. After being a goal down in the 11th minute they drew level through Sami Hyypia with Robert Pires scoring the winner in the second half. This was followed by a hard-fought win of 1-0 over Chelsea at home with Henry getting his seventh goal from nine league matches. Come November, the Gunners extended their stranglehold on the League with a 3-0 away win over Birmingham City, the goals coming from Ljungberg, Pires and Bergkamp. They had set a new record of 13 unbeaten games. But a flurry of draws with Charlton Athletic, Fulton and Bolton saw them end the calendar year of 2003 in the second place with 45 points from 19 matches. They were a point behind United.

The year 2004 saw Arsenal begin on a quiet note with a 1-1 draw against Everton. A few days later, they hosted Middlesbrough and played some superb football to beat their rivals 4-1. A week later a 2-0 win over Aston Villa followed with Henry scoring both goals. After 22 games, Arsenal was on top, 5 points clear of Manchester United.

The Gunners were showing signs of their famed invincibility when they won all their five encounters in February. Thierry Henry reached a personal landmark when he scored his 100th League goal in a match against Southampton. That was his 101st appearance in the Premier League. One of the memorable wins was against Chelsea. Arsenal were a goal down just 27 seconds into the game. But Patrick Vieira restored parity in the 15th minute helped by an exquisite curving pass from Denis Bergkamp. The winner came from Edu off a Henry corner kick. Two early goals at Highbury against Charlton helped them end the month of February with 67 points from 27 matches. They were 9 points ahead of a floundering Chelsea and Manchester United.

Arsenal continued their good form into March. A highpoint of the post-March period was a 3-1 win over Liverpool which saw Henry get a hattrick. With a yawning gap of 10 points over their nearest rival, the Gunners just needed a slew of draws to ensure their place at the top. Which they did against Tottenham, Birmingham City and Portsmouth and capping the season with a 2-1 win against Leicester in May.

With 26 wins, 12 draws and no defeats, the Highbury side managed by Arsene Wenger and skippered by Patrick Vieira became known as "The Invincibles".

Amy Lawrence of The Observer wrote: "Arsenal's achievement may not make them 'great' in everyone's opinion - those who define greatness only by European Cups, back-to-back titles and triple cartwheels on the way to every goal - but it is staggering in its own right."

Thierry Henry, 37, recognized as an Arsenal legend and a French international great, retired from professional football after a 4-year stint with the New York Red Bulls. There are rumors floating around of him stepping into Arsene Wenger's shoes.

Dennis Bergkamp, 45, is currently an Assistant Manager with the Dutch club AFC Ajax.

Robert Pires, 41, currently plays for FC Goa in the Indian Super League.

Patrick Vieira, 38, another French international great, retired from professional football in 2011. He is currently the Manager of the Reserves Squad of Manchester City.