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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 May, 2004, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Arsenal the Invincibles
By Ian Hughes
BBC Sport

Arsenal have become the first team since Preston North End in 1888-89 to go through an entire season unbeaten.

Here, BBC Sport looks at the crucial encounters in their amazing season.


Five games into the season, Arsenal's Highbury home could have been described more fortuitous than fortress as the Gunners wobbled but didn't quite fall down.

Portsmouth deservedly took the lead through Tottenham old boy Teddy Sheringham and were making a mockery of Arsenal's 100% start to the campaign.

But before half-time, Arsene Wenger's men drew level in controversial circumstances.

French winger Robert Pires tumbled to the ground after making slight contact with Dejan Stefanovic to earn his side a penalty.

The debatable decision became even more contentious as Thierry Henry eventually scored after the spot-kick was retaken.

After the game, Pompey boss Harry Redknapp fumed: "It was embarrassing. I'm not saying that Pires purposefully dived but it was never a penalty.

"Up until then, we were in control of the game."


In 2002, Arsenal clinched the Premiership title with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford, last term they surrendered the match 2-0, and eventually their title.

This season, Old Trafford was once again a battlefield and though the teams fought a stalemate, Arsenal delivered a telling blow.

Not least to Ruud van Nistelrooy - both physically and mentally - after the Dutchman missed an injury-time penalty.

Martin Keown squares up to Ruud van Nistelrooy
Martin Keown taunts Ruud van Nistelrooy
Van Nistelrooy had earlier clashed with Patrick Vieira and the Gunners skipper was sent off for his second booking, which incensed his team-mates.

And when the United striker smashed his spot-kick against the bar, the beautiful game turned ugly.

On the final whistle, Van Nistelrooy was buffeted by a number of Arsenal players.

Lauren, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole and Ray Parlour were all later fined and suspended after pleading guilty to improper conduct.

Their actions can not be condoned, but the episode demonstrated the togetherness, resolve and determination of Wenger's side.

The Gunners appeared galvanised by the incident and it was evident the hunger from their 2002 Double-winning season was back.


Edu is congratulated after scoring against Chelsea
Edu is congratulated after scoring against Chelsea
Arsenal went seven points clear at the top of the table after this victory, but the win initially looked in doubt after a terrible start.

Eidur Gujohndsen put Chelsea ahead after just 27 seconds as the Blues looked to avenge their FA Cup defeat at Highbury six days previously.

But Arsenal's self-confident swagger remained and they drew level through a superbly-worked Vieira strike in the 15th minute.

Edu hooked in the winner just six minutes later as the Gunners claimed another come-from-behind win against their title rivals.

At Highbury in October, Chelsea keeper Carlo Cudicini made an horrendous error to gift Thierry Henry the winner after Hernan Crespo had given Chelsea an early lead.

The two games showed Arsenal had the edge over Roman Abramovich's expensively-assembled side - but only just.


Having just been dumped out of the FA Cup and the Champions League, Arsenal faced a true test of their mettle.

At half time, Liverpool led 2-1 and nervous minds around Highbury began to fill with memories of last season's slump which ruined Arsenal's title defence.

But Henry and Pires soon quashed those fears when they scored a goal each in a two-minute spell just after the break to put Arsenal ahead.

Henry completed his hat-trick on 78 minutes to ensure Arsenal restored their seven-point lead at the Premiership summit.

Henry's second goal was a breathtaking moment of genius, capping an attacking team performance Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier labelled "stunning".

He added: "They showed why they are unbeaten in the league."

However, Liverpool should have defeated Arsenal at Anfield in October after taking the lead and completely outplaying the Gunners in the first half.

A Sami Hyppia own-goal rescued Arsenal, and a wonderful Pires strike sealed an unlikely win.


Arsenal celebrate winning the title at White Hart Lane
Arsenal celebrate winning the title at White Hart Lane

In 1971, Arsenal were crowned league champions at the home of their bitter rivals Spurs and 33 years on they did it again.

Chelsea's draw at Newcastle earlier in the day meant Arsenal needed only a draw to seal the Premiership title.

And if they had any pre-match nerves, they didn't last long as Vieira put Arsenal in front after only three minutes.

It was a goal typical of the panache and fluency displayed by his side all season and a message that Arsenal would not be halted.

However, a brave Spurs display in the second half saw them claw back a two-goal deficit to deny their north London neighbours victory.

But it didn't stop Arsenal winning the title - and they stayed on course to record an historic unbeaten season.

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