Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-04 Season
by Amy Lawrence
The previous year, Arsène Wenger thought it frightening that a team might go through the season unbeaten. On 4th May 2003 as Leeds United left the Highbury pitch with three points in their pockets, thoughts that the next campaign would produce such a fabulous outcome were far from everyone’s minds. Not even a double-hat-trick win over Southampton gave hint to the possibilities.
But 2003/04 was exactly that, engraved in the footballing granite for all of eternity as the year of “The Invincibles”. It will be the season which, for all the changes he wrought through the club and the English game in general, will be Arsène’s crowning achievement.
The Champions League, which he craves, continues to elude him, a state of affairs which seems unlikely to end before this contract is up. Whether he remains in charge after that is an argument for another day. But if this is to be his final Premier League title, it has been given a fitting tribute.
Amy Lawrence brings the strands of the successful season from squad construction through to the Premier League trophy being hoisted above Patrick Vieira’s head after the final day victory over Leicester City. There was a certain symmetry that they should be the opponents for the record-breaking fixture; Highbury’s crowning glory achieved in a match against their first opposition, albeit in a different guise.
Using interviews with the key protagonists, the inside perspective is given on a remarkable campaign. The complexities of achieving a simple aim – if winning a title can be ever be called simple – are laid bare, the surface scratched and then dug under to bring out some rare gems into the daylight.
The style of the book matches that of the team. Like them, it isn’t brash, the aura of that season is polished and shines in captivating prose. The familiarity of the ending encourages the inquisitive to ask questions but Lawrence elicited responses from those involved that go beyond the boundaries of a normal football biography.
David Dein recalls Wenger’s appointment, contradicting the perceived truth that Arsène was considered before Rioch but after and the various squad members are introduced in their own words rather than the contemporaneous reports, augmented by our own views. Despite the years, there is a camaraderie which may go on to match that of the 1971 squad captured so well in Dave Seager and Jill Armstrong’s recent book, Geordie Armstrong: On the Wing.
There’s something heroic about the feat that means the men involved will stand as giants in the club’s history. Quite rightly so, and their story has been captured definitively in this book. If you don’t already own a copy, it is a ‘must have’ on your Christmas lists.
You can buy Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season here.