football

Where are they now: The Invincibles of Arsenal

March 29, 2018

- Grant Whittington

Given the recent plight of Arsenal and the much-maligned manager Arsene Wenger, it’s hard to imagine that the club went through an entire EPL season unbeaten in 2003/04. In doing so, they became only the second side in the history of the English top-flight to achieve this feat, after Preston in a 12-team league back in 1888/89.

Nicknamed the Invincibles, Arsene Wenger’s record-breaking side combined pace and power like few others, while they ultimately won the league by 12 points from runners-up Chelsea.

In this post, we’ll look back at Arsenal’s regular first-eleven from that season and ask what they’re up to now.

 Jens Lehmann

 Lehmann stepped effortlessly into the shoes of David Seaman following his departure, serving as a superb last line of defence in the Invincibles side. In total, he made 200 appearances for the Gunners across two spells, while winning 61 caps for Germany.

He has since returned to the club as a coach, earning his full FIFA coaching license while at the Emirates and, after a brief break, returning ahead of the 2017/18 season. Lehmann has also worked with distinction as an ambassador for UNICEF and a motivational speaker.

Lauren

 Signed for £7.2 million in 2000, Cameron international Lauren made 242 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions and played as an uncompromising right back during the 2003/04 season.

After six stellar years at Arsenal, he wound down his playing career at Portsmouth and Cordoba before retiring in 2010 and settling in Seville. He also appears as an occasional pundit alongside Guillem Balague on the Sky Sport program Revista de la Liga.

Sol Campbell

One of the finest defenders of his generation, Sol Campbell made waves when he signed for the Gunners on a free transfer from bitter North London rivals Spurs. Capped 73 times by his country, Campbell led Arsenal’s defensive line during the 2003/04 season and in total he won two EPL titles and three FA Cups at the Emirates.

He has moved into the world of politics since his retirement in 2011, launching a failed attempt to run as the Conservative nominee in the 2016 London Mayoral election and regularly voicing his support for Brexit.

Kolo Toure

Toure is one of only two players on this list that remained active at the beginning of this season, and one who manager Arsene Wenger signed after one of the most notorious trials in history (the Ivorian defender took out Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Wenger himself with three ferocious tackles).

He provided the perfect foil for Campbell at centre back in the Invincibles team, before enjoying spells at Manchester City, Liverpool and most recently Celtic.

Ashley Cole

For a time, Ashley Cole was considered to be the best left-back in the world. He certainly starred during the 2003/04 season, only to alienate fans during acrimonious contract talks with club before forcing through a contentious move to rivals Chelsea in 2006.

Cole went on to enjoy outstanding success at Stamford Bridge, while he also earned 107 caps for England. He is the only former Invincible still playing, as he plies his trade with LA Galaxy in the MLS.

Freddie Ljungberg

One of the most popular members of Arsenal’s Invincibles, Ljungberg starred as goalscoring winger who won two EPL titles and three FA Cups during his time at the club. He spent a total of nine years at the club, while also working a part-time model with Calvin Klein (and other brands) and winning 75 caps for Sweden.

He has since moved into coaching, spending a brief spell with Arsenal’s Academy in 2016 and working as the assistant manager at Wolfsburg before being released in the autumn.

Patrick Viera

Viera was one of the best midfielders ever to play in the Premier League, and he was the heartbeat of the Invincibles side that swept all before them in 2004.

Renowned for his athleticism, drive and notorious battles with rival Roy Keane, the Frenchman won six major honours during his time with Arsenal including 3 EPL titles.

He has subsequently played for Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City, while his has worked as the head coach at New York City FC in the MLS since 2015.

Gilberto Silva

The unsung hero of Arsenal’s Invincibles, Silva worked tirelessly to protect the back four during his time with the Gunners. A World Cup winner with tremendous pedigree, he went on to play more than 200 games for Arsenal before leaving for Panathinaikos in 2008.

He ultimately finished his career in his native Brazil, retiring in 2015 and announcing plans to work as an international football consultant. He is also a keen philanthropist, and a patron of The Street League (which organises football games for refugees, asylum seekers and homeless people).

Robert Pires

Pires shone as a classy and skillful left winger during his time at the Gunners, and one with an unerring eye for goal. He excelled during the 2003/04 season, forming a lethal understanding with Thierry Henry as the two plundered 57 goals between them in all competitions.

Pires won four major honours in six years with the club, and was voted as the sixth best player in the side’s history by fans. Upon his retirement in 2016, he was approached by Wenger and became a first-team coach at the Emirates.

Dennis Bergkamp

Dutchman Bergkamp played in a withdrawn attacking role during his 11 years at Arsenal, with his guile and incredible technique adding a key string to Arsenal’s bow. In total, he won seven major honours during his time with the club, while scoring 120 goals in 423 appearances (and five during the year of the Invincibles).

After retiring in 2006, he announced that he would not move into coaching, but he has since reneged on this and worked as the assistant manager at Ajax until December 2017.

Thierry Henry

We close with Arsenal’s record goalscorer, and a man who is currently being linked as a potential replacement for Arsene Wenger. The electric forward was sensational during the the 2003/04 season, plundering 30 goals in 37 EPL games and 39 in 51 appearances overall.

In total, he scored a record 226 goals at Arsenal and won four major honours, before shining at Barcelona and during a brief MLS stint with the New York Red Bulls. He currently works as an occasional pundit with Sky and the BBC, while he is also serving as the assistant manager of the Belgian national side.

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