In the 20th anniversary year of Arsenal’s ‘Invincible’ title winners, former club captain Mikel Arteta is now the manager, hoping to bring the Premier League title back to North London for the first time since that historic year of 2004.
The title race is shaping up nicely this season with so many stories and factors coming into play. Jurgen Klopp’s farewell tour could end with a quadruple, a league title or maybe nothing. Kevin De Bruyne’s return could be the catalyst to continue Manchester City’s unstoppable domestic dominance.
Then there’s Arsenal. The near-miss of the Premier League in 2023 could’ve just been a sign of them overcoming that hurdle in 2024. Declan Rice has been a transformative signing, William Saliba and Gabriel are as solid as ever and their armoury of attacking gems could be about to click into full gear.
But Arsenal fans will tell you, ‘we’ve seen it before’. So many times under Arsene Wenger did they go into February with title dreams only for them to be shattered within a month or two. Arteta’s side felt that pain last year, so is there a difference this year? Here’s how they compare to Arsenal’s title winning triumphs at this point of the season:
97/98 vs 23/24
Position: 5th vs 3rd
Points: 38 vs 49
Goal Difference: +14 vs +25
Cup Competitions: FA Cup & League Cup vs Champions LeagueEmbed from Getty Images
Wenger’s first full year in charge started slowly but finished in astonishing fashion. They won 13 out of the next 14 league games from here to clinch the title with two games to spare. These winning streaks were a freak of nature in such a competitive league, only for Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp to make that a regular in their run-ins. If Arsenal can get anywhere near that sort of run this season they’d be very close.
01/02 vs 23/24
Positions: 2nd vs 3rd
Points: 44 vs 49
Goal Difference: +19 vs +25
Cup competitions: Champions League & FA Cup vs Champions LeagueEmbed from Getty Images
Arsenal’s 2002 title winning squad is arguably the most underrated in Premier League history. They are the only team to ever score in every single league game in a season, whilst becoming the first side to go unbeaten away from home all season. This consistency and solidarity is the foundations champions are built on. For Mikel Arteta’s men to go one better than last campaign they need to get results away from home to their rivals and start converting more of their dominance into goals.
03/04 vs 23/24
Position: 1st vs 3rd
Points: 55 vs 49
Goal Difference: +29 vs +25
Cup competitions: Champions League, FA Cup & League Cup vs Champions LeagueEmbed from Getty Images
The Invincibles are one of the greatest ever Premier League winning teams, but it very nearly crashed and burned when they exited two cup competitions in three days. They ended with the league title but the disappointment of those cup defeats, especially to Chelsea in Europe, nearly capitulated their league campaign. That’s where Arteta’s Arsenal have an advantage. Liverpool and City have eyes on collecting or retaining cups, whereas Arsenal have a decent Champions League draw and the Premier League to focus on.
Arsenal are well equipped to go far in both the league and in Europe. But if they are to match the historic feats of Wenger’s greatest hits, they’ll need consistency, goals and probably a bit of luck too.