Welcome to the third in FourFourTwo’s series on great clubs of the past. This time we are revisiting the Arsenal side from the 2003-04 season that made it through the entire English Premier League campaign undefeated, earning the moniker The Invincibles.
Unlike our previous two editions, Liverpool’s Champions League-winning side from 2005 and Manchester United’s 1999 triumph in the same competition, the Gunners of course didn’t contest a final en route to the league title.
That made picking the final squad a little more difficult. In the end our criteria was very simple – whoever made the most appearances over the 38-game season found a place in the side, which included four substitutes.
Jose Antonio Reyes’ 13 appearances, six of them off the bench, gave him the nod over Gael Clichy (12 appearances, five as a substitute) as the final sub.
Written by Vijhay Vick, James Dampney, Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol and Tio Utomo
Goalkeeper: Jens Lehmann – 38 starts, 0 substitute appearances
The German is the only member of the side to have played in all 38 league matches that season, immediately becoming a stalwart between the posts in his first year at the club. He helped the Gunners win the league by a hefty 21-point margin over Chelsea, conceding only 26 goals in the process.
Lehman also collected a 2004-05 FA Cup medal before leaving Arsenal for Stuttgart in May 2008 and finally retiring at the age of 40 in 2010. He did, however, come out of retirement for several months in March 2011 to help Arsenal through a goalkeeping injury crisis.
During his time at Arsenal he finally won his duel with Bayern Munich star Oliver Kahn to be Germany’s No.1, as Jurgen Klinsmann picked Lehman as his starter at the 2006 World Cup.
Today, Lehman is a German football television pundit and gets involved in many charity programmes. He is a member of the Laureus Foundation and is active in a number of humanitarian projects, including work with UNICEF.
He was also part of the Bundesliga Legends Tour in August when the league’s former stars visited various countries, including Singapore, to promote the German top-flight.
He is expected to feature in the Kuwait Champions Challenge alongside Andrea Pirlo, Paul Scholes, Ronaldinho, Robert Pires, Luis Figo, Deco, Alessandro Del Piero and Steven Gerrard on December 18. – VV