The unforgettable day
On the 25th April 2004, at five minutes past 4 in the afternoon, referee Mark Halsey blew the whistle to commence the start of ninety minutes that made history forever. Ninety minutes, a Thierry Henry counter attack, a Patrick Vieira goal, a Dennis Bergkamp masterclass and a Robert Pires goal later, Arsenal were confirmed as champions at White Hart Lane.
Arsenal only required a draw that day to be crowned champions, which they achieved, the game ending at 2-2 thanks to a last minute Robbie Keane penalty. The goal proved to be irrelevant to the Lilywhites, despite their elaborate celebrations as the Irishman fired the 94th-minute penalty away from the reach of Jens Lehmann.
A fond memory
Some things about that day will never be forgotten, from the players’ celebrations at the end of game, to the later words from Thierry Henry mocking the actions of Keane following his late goal – setting the standard between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
It was a day that Arsenal fans will think fondly of for the entirety of their lives, the same unfortunately goes for Tottenham fans too, though without the fondness, as the Gunners so frequently remind them of that day.
It was difficult for Arsenal fans to move on from that day, but as a new week dawned, their challenge was still on as Arsene Wenger’s Champions were still unbeaten with the crown in their hands.
They couldn’t, could they?
The Premier League has been one of the most thrilling and popular leagues in the world for a number of reasons, tradition, history and the league's ability to throw up an upset at any point.
An upset occurred on that famous day, which granted Arsenal with the opportunity to win the league at the Lane requiring just a point. Newcastle United’s victory over second place Chelsea took them nine points behind the Gunners.
Nowadays, it is considered virtually impossible for a team to go unbeaten in any league. Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are yet to go undefeated in their leagues, competitions that they annually dominate.
The job was on for Arsene Wenger’s champions, even after their Championship confirming ninety minutes on the 25th April 2004, the Gunners were presented with another challenge up for grabs.
Wenger’s team had balance, perfect balance in fact. A sturdy defence, an unbreakable central midfield that stood behind a formidable attack – if Arsenal couldn’t do it, no one could. So they did it.
A challenge worth taking
A home visit from Birmingham City followed the Champions’ game at White Hart Lane, it was suggested that the team were still suffering from sore heads from their celebrations as a 0-0 draw was concluded after ninety minutes of grind at Highbury – still unbeaten.
Next came an away trip to Portsmouth three days later. Another draw as José Antonio Reyes saved the Gunners from losing their unbeaten record, scoring a second-half equaliser to end the game at 1-1. Still unbeaten.
Five days later and the champions were on the road again, this time across the capital to Fulham where Reyes was the hero once again, recording Arsenal’s first win in four games with a 1-0 away victory. Still unbeaten – one game to go.
The final game of the season, the Champions were back at Highbury and adorned in the overwhelming support from their faithful fans who had stood by the team through a successful, but tough season. Leicester City were the opposition as Arsenal aimed to collect at least a point to confirm they had gone the season unbeaten.
Arsenal were woken up from being bathed in glory by Highbury, as Paul Dickov gave Leicester the lead jeopardising Arsenal’s unbeaten opportunity. Arsenal’s frontman was there to calm the nerves in North London, as Henry scored from the spot soon after.
A completely remarkable season was crowned by captain Vieira, who scored the winner making it 2-1 to the Arsenal. Unbeaten.
An achievement that can be commended by all
The red half of North London was in party mode while the white half remained silent. The whole country was summoned to celebrate with Arsenal, as no one could find justification to why Arsenal shouldn’t have achieved what they did.
The psychological strength that Arsène Wenger instilled into the players to grind out gritty results after they were crowned champions was most admirable. Arsenal were worthy champions on the 25th April, but it wasn’t enough for the Frenchman.
Wenger’s desire to go further has written his name in the history books of world football, as he lead a success fuelled team ranging from world class talent to players who ‘did the job’ to achieve what is undoubtedly the Premier League’s greatest ever success if you wish to think further than Leicester City’s triumph last season.
In the toughest of times at Arsenal football club, the memories created by the men in red and white on that day in 2004 can bring goosebumps to any fan of the club, no matter the position of the club – and for that, they are thanked.