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All Guns Blazing: 10 years on and Arsenal’s Invincibles still cast a shadow

12:01 30 October 2014

Arsenal Invincibles banner in the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal Invincibles banner in the Emirates Stadium

EMPICS Sport

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Layth Yousif looks back at the end of the Invincibles and Arsenal’s new artistic movement.

There was a recent 10-year anniversary no Gunners fan will look on with anything but sadness and regret.

Has it really been a decade since ‘match 50’ – a seismic 2-0 loss at Old Trafford on October 24, 2004, signalling the end of our glorious 49-match unbeaten run?

Some pundits argue the club has never recovered from the defeat, hastening the beginning of the end of the first ‘Wenger era’, and from which our ‘Invincibles’ saw their never-to-be repeated unbeaten run ended controversially on an awful Manchester afternoon.

I won’t discuss the details again – I’m sure they are all embedded in our psyche whether we like it or not – suffice to say even now, a decade on, Sol Campbell simply did not foul Wayne Rooney to concede a penalty for Ruud van Nistelrooy to net United’s 73rd-minute opener.

Bitter? No. Football is capricious, and we would have lost eventually. But the manner of the defeat – in terms of a referee being duped by a player who dived – makes the result and images from the day very hard to bear even now. History shows we drew against Southampton at Highbury in the next game – but it was clear to all our body language from then on never quite matched the Invincibles’ charisma.

Losing to Manchester United haunts some Arsenal fans to this day because of the fact we have failed to hit such consistently imperious heights again.

So it was a perfect antidote for me to interview Amy Lawrence for The Gooner fanzine around the date of the Old Trafford anniversary. The renowned journalist has a new book called ‘Invincible’, detailing our never-to-be-forgotten unbeaten season.

Amy, who has been watching Arsenal since the 1970s, tells the wonderful story of the time the Gunners ruled the Premier League with a team full of – as she says with admiration – exceptional characters as much as exceptional players. Their will-to-win and esprit de corps is testament to one of the finest teams the club has produced, and should be celebrated.

Speaking of celebrations, Operation Arsenal Art (#OpAa) is on this Friday and Saturday at Piebury Corner, featuring some of the best sports art around.

I would urge you to visit, make a purchase or two, and talk to the artists concerned – many of whom are genuine Gooners at the vanguard of a new movement. For that, we should be proud.

Follow me @laythy29

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