Whatever happened to Arsenal’s invincibles?

I think it’s fair to say there has been quite a lot of criticism of Arsenal in recent weeks. A Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham, an exit from Europe at the hands of Barcelona and a loss to Manchester United saw them drop out of the FA Cup. All of this happened within a couple of weeks.

It got me thinking about the days when Arsenal were seen as unbeatable. Constant performances saw them go the whole of the 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten, a feat which has only happened once before in history, when Preston managed it in in the 1888/89 season – although that was only over a course of 22 games.

It seems that Arsenal could really do with some of those invincibles to return to the club and perform the magic they did this season? Just one question, where are they all now? I’ve found the team that beat Leicester 2-1 on the last game of the season, and have done some digging to see where they have all ended up.

Jens Lehmann
Remained at the club until 2008, the German goalkeeper was always a colourful character. He left for Stuttgart in Germany, where he established himself as a first team regular. Recent reports have linked him with a move back to North London, after injuries to Lucas Fabianksi and Wojciech Szczesny, and a permanent deal might not be far away.

Lauren
Remained at the club until 2007 before moving to Portsmouth. After failing to nail down a first-team spot, he left the country and moved to Cordoba in Spain – where he finished his career in 2010. He now lives in Seville, but has appeared as a guest on Revista de la Liga on Sky Sports.

Sol Campbell
Left the club on a free transfer in 2006 to join Portsmouth, where he won the FA Cup. After a move to Notts County in 2009 turned sour, he rejoined Arsenal for the remainder of the 2009/10 season before joining Newcastle on a free. Career has again stalled.

Kolo Toure
A major part of the Arsenal team in the season following the title win. A reported bust-up with William Gallas saw him hand in a transfer request at the start of 2009, but remained until the end of the season. Finally moved to Man City for £16 million, where he was a success, but is currently suspended after failing a drugs test.

Ashley Cole
Once a fan’s favourite, now the one the Arsenal (and most of the country) love to hate. Left for Chelsea in 2006 and has become a regular member of their side. Gone on to win the Premier League, three FA Cups and a League Cup.

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Robert Pires
A big part of the invincible side, Pires stayed at Arsenal until 2006. He also opted to move abroad and joined Villareal in Spain. A successful time saw him make over 100 appearances before leaving in the summer of 2010. After spending time training with the Gunners last summer, he joined Aston Villa.

Patrick Vieira
Vieira will go down as one of the best players in the history of the club. Left in 2005 for a big money move to Serie A side Juventus, before a move to fellow Italian side Inter Milan. After an initial good spell, he fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho. Joined up with former manager Roberto Mancini at Man City in January 2010. With the rumours of Fabregas leaving, I’m sure Arsenal fans would welcome him back.

Freddie Ljungberg
A series of injuries meant a lack of first team action, and Ljungberg joined West Ham in 2007. However, more injury problems restricted his time there and he left in 2008. After brief break from football, he moved to the MLS to play for Seattle Sounders, before another move to Chicago Fire. He moved to Celtic last December and has made a handful of appearances for the Scottish side.

Gilberto Silva
The unsung hero of the side, he remained in the Arsenal side in the following years. However, he eventually fell out of favour and left to join Greek side Panathinaikos in 2008. As well as helping them to the last 16 of the Champions League, he won the league and cup double last season.

Dennis Bergkamp
A true legend of the club, ‘Iceman’ saw out his playing years under Arsene Wenger. After retirement in 2006, he returned to Holland to take a break from the game. Has recently moved into the coaching and is currently working at Ajax with a possible move into coaching in the future.

Thierry Henry
The real driving force behind the title win, Henry is one of (if not the best) strikers the country has ever seen. It was a shame his Arsenal career didn’t end on the highest of notes, as he was injured for a lot of the 2006/07 season. A surprise big money move to Barcelona in 2007 and he continued to shine. However, the power of the youth set-up at the club saw Henry’s action reduced – so he decided to move to MLS side New York Red Bulls. Recently returned to Arsenal to train with the side.

So there we have it, the last game of the Arsenal invincible season. It’s fair to say thing are not going as well this season, after the side fell out of three competitions in the space of just a few weeks. Still, Wenger believes his side can challenge for the title. After such an amazing career, who are we to argue?

However, I’m sure Wenger would kill for the likes of Henry, Pires and Vieira to return to the club and play the magnificent football they did back then. Will we ever see such a great record happen again?

 


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