Arsene Wenger was mocked when he said a team could go unbeaten for an entire season and it is quite unimaginable. The sheer amount of grit and luck it would take to not lose a single game could take a toll on any world-class team.
But in 2004 when Wenger’s Arsenal achieved the impossible, they were rightly nicknamed ‘The Invincibles’. Going on a 49-game unbeaten streak was the stuff of dreams. However, they weren’t the only ones to have achieved this incredible feat.
From Preston North End in 1888/89 right through to the latest club to manage it, Celtic in 2016/17, there have been a few other teams who managed to go unbeaten, and we’re here to take a look at just that.
5. Preston North End (1888/89)
In a run of 22 league games, Preston North End went unbeaten and collected the FA Cup alongside the league title. They became the first English side to do the double, and, over a century before Arsène Wenger’s glory in 2004. Preston were the first English side to remain ‘invincible’ for an entire season.
The squad finished the league campaign with 18 wins and four draws while netting a league-high 74 goals and allowing a league-low 15. Their total of 40 points was 11 better than runners-up Aston Villa.
Notable players of that early squad included Fred Dewhurst, Jack Gordon, Johnny Graham, Robert Holmes, Sandy Robertson, Jimmy Ross, and James Trainer.
4. San Lorenzo Almagro (1968,1972)
The 1968 San Lorenzo Almagro team was nicknamed ‘Los Matadores’ as they won the Championship without losing a single game. They were recognized as the best team in the world.
Four years later they did it again in 1972 with club legends Victorio Cocco, Agustín Irusta, Rafael Albrecht, Rodolfo Fischer, José Sanfilippo, Alberto Rendo, Rubén Ayala, and Héctor Scotta contributing to the championships.
Despite its domestic dominance, San Lorenzo never won the Copa de Libertadores, a stain on the club’s history that remained until 2014.
3. Real Madrid (1931/32)
The 1931-1932 season was a great one for Lippo Hertza's team. The Los Blancos finished the league as unbeaten champions dethroning Athletic Bilbao who were the defending champions.
The arrival of Ricardo Zamora was soon followed by that of Ciriaco Errasti and Jacinto Quincoces. The trio formed the best defence in the world. The result was four titles in as many years (two in La Liga and two Copas).
2. Boca Juniors (1998, 2011)
Club Atlético Boca Juniors won the 1998 Apertura with Carlos Bianchi, 72 years since they last went unbeaten in 1926.
They repeated the feat in 2011, three years after Boca had won any title. Boca completed the tournament remaining unbeaten, with 12 wins and 7 draws. The team also conceded the fewest goals (only 6 in 19 matches disputed) which set a record for short tournaments in Argentina.
Sebastian Battaglia and Juan Román Riquelme were the only two players from the ‘98 squad who achieved the impossible feat with Boca Juniors again in 2011.
1. Arsenal (2003/04)
115 years after Preston managed it, Arsenal became the next British side to replicate their feat. They managed 26 wins and 12 draws, with club legend Thierry Henry scoring 30 goals in the most immense campaign the club has ever - and will ever - see again.
Continuing into the next season, a special gold version of the Premier League trophy was commissioned to commemorate Arsenal winning the title without a single defeat.
What was probably the strongest line-up of Jens Lehmann, Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure, Ashley Cole, Gilberto Silva, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Fredrik Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, and Thierry Henry became known as 'The Invincibles'.