Thursday, May 7, 2009

7 May 2003 - Because "The Forty-Niners" Was Already Taken

On 7 May 2003, Arsenal defeated Southampton at Highbury by the score of 6-1. That match was the first in the Gunners' record 49-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League, a run which saw them claim the league title for the 2003-04 season.

Three days earlier, Arsenal had lost at home to Leeds United. That loss ensured that Arsenal would finish the season in second place behind Manchester United, thus ending their title bid. Few expected that it would be their last league loss for over a season.

The Gunners took out their frustrations on the Saints, scoring early and often. Winger Robert Pires scored the first goal in the 9th minute, on his way to a hat-trick (23', 47'). Arsenal midfielder Jermaine Pennant, making his league debut, added a hat-trick of his own in the span of ten minutes in the first half (17', 20', 26'). The match was never in doubt and Arsenal cruised to an easy victory.

Arsenal carried their momentum through the last two matches of the 2002-03 season, then through the following season, in which they won 26 of their 38 league matches, drawing the other 12. They finished that season as champions with 90 points, 11 more than runners-up Chelsea. Throughout the streak, Arsenal played 49 matches, of which they won 36, drew 13, and lost 0, earning the name "The Invincibles."

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