Premier League Nostalgia - 2003/04 Season

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The 2003/04 season remains the only campaign to see a club go a full 38 games unbeaten. Arsenal won their third (and, to this date, final) Premier League title with 26 wins, 12 draws, and 0 losses. 

Though Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United have since attained more points in a Premier League season, none of these clubs have ever wrapped up the trophy with an unblemished record. 


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2003/04 Season Background

The standout transfer ahead of the new season was Manchester United’s acquisition of 18-year-old prospect Cristiano Ronaldo for £17 million. The young Portuguese winger had faced Man United in a Champions League game and impressed Sir Alex Ferguson so much that after the game, he immediately courted the youngster to Old Trafford. 

United also secured the services of Frenchman Louis Saha and young defensive midfielder Erik Djemba-Djemba. The Red Devils were to be without David Beckham and immediately began seeking replacements for the English captain once his transfer to Real Madrid was complete. 

Other notable transfers included Arsenal’s signing of young (and, sadly, now departed) midfielder Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla and Liverpool’s purchase of highly-rated Australian youngster Harry Kewell. 

The major footballing story of the summer came in the form of Chelsea’s enormous spending spree. Bankrolled by new owner Roman Abrahmovic, the Blues embarked on one of the most famous transfer windows of all-time by adding Hernan Crespo, Damien Duff, Juan Sebastion Veron, Claude Makelele, Adrian Mutu, Joe Cole, Wayne Bridge, and a host of others to their squad.

The splashing of the cash was a big statement and cemented Chelsea’s status as serious title disruptors. In the days before Financial Fair Play, it was far easier for wealthy owners to pump money into clubs with little consequence, and Abrahmovic’s massive wealth was spent freely in the market without nearly as much restriction as there is today. 

It was all well and good for Chelsea to invest, but they still hadn’t won a top-flight title since 1955 and fans were expecting nothing less than a top-three finish ahead of the new campaign. 

Liverpool and Newcastle United were hoping to challenge for the top four this season, whilst Leeds United’s Premier League status was in serious trouble after years of frivolous spending came back to bite them. 

Premier League Nostalgia - 2000/01 Season

Premier League Nostalgia - 2000/01 Season

The 2003/04 Season Summary 

Manchester United won the season’s opening game as they swept aside Bolton Wanderers 4-0 in Ronaldo’s debut. The Portuguese wonderkid played a part in three of the goals and his debut was lauded by pundits, fans, and the general football community. Some said it was the best United debut they had seen since George Best’s many years before. 

Ruud Van Nistelrooy was his usual prolific self as the Dutchman scored in 10 successive games, accruing 15 goals in the process and propelling United to the top-two. The Red Devils, however, went into their first game against Arsenal in second place. 

The game would finish goalless and Van Nistelrooy blasted a late penalty over the crossbar, much to the delight of Arsenal fans. The Gunners would top the table going into Christmas, with Manchester United, Chelsea, and the underestimated Southampton following behind. 

Chelsea’s impressive form at the turn of the year put them at the summit briefly, however a surprise loss to Charlton Athletic allowed Arsenal to regain first place. Chelsea’s midfield was dominated by young English prospect Scott Parker and his performance was so impressive that Chelsea signed him soon after. 

Premier League Nostalgia - 2001/02 Season

Premier League Nostalgia - 2001/02 Season

Brilliant Arsenal

Though Manchester United and Chelsea were highly impressive, stopping Arsenal’s momentum was a near-impossible task. The Gunners had world-class players in every position and the irresistible form of Thierry Henry simply could not be stopped. 

Arsene Wenger’s men sealed the title with a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane against their archrivals Tottenham. Chelsea challenged until late on in the season, but a loss to Newcastle ended their hopes for a first league title since 1955. 

Arsenal’s invincible status was cemented with a 2-1 win over relegated Leicester City and the Gunners lifted the trophy with 90 points and 0 defeats. The Foxes, who had also been relegated in 2001/02, were to be joined in the newly-renamed Championship with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United - who were relegated just three years after reaching the final-four of the UEFA Champions League. 

Chelsea finished runners-up, but even a second place finish was deemed unacceptable by the new Chelsea hierarchy and Claudio Ranieri was promptly sacked. Manchester United finished third, whilst Liverpool grabbed the final Champions League position. 

Arsenal’s wonderful season will live on in the minds of football fans forever and their achievement of completing the only unbeaten season in Premier League history one that fans still celebrate almost 20 years later. 

Season Statistics (Team)

Champions - Arsenal (90 points, undefeated)

Runners-up - Chelsea (79 points)

Third-place - Manchester United (75 points)

Fourth-place - Liverpool (60 points)

Season Statistics (Individual)

Golden Boot - Thierry Henry (Arsenal, 30 goals)

Most Assists  - Muzzy Izzet (Leicester City, 14 assists)

PFA Player of the Year - Thierry Henry

PFA Young Player of the Year - Scott Parker (Charlton Athletic, Chelsea)

 

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Disclaimer: Opinion content is provided by experienced journalists and are not the views of Lord Ping

 

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