On this day in 2002, Arsene Wenger claimed his Arsenal side could go an entire season without losing a game only to be mocked before guiding his side to the title – unbeaten – the following season.
Ever since Arsenal completed an unbeaten season against all the odds in 2003/04, we’ve had to listen to the press ask every season, when another side wins a few games, ‘can they go unbeaten?’ Sometimes the journalists don’t just ask the question, they suggest it is very possible.
How very different it was back in 2002 before Arsenal actually did it.
Back then, stating such a thing caused ridicule. Now, parts of the press act like it’s something any side could achieve if they just want it enough.
“It’s not impossible to go through the season unbeaten and I can’t see why it’s shocking to say that,” Wenger said, technically on 20 September 2002, but it was reported on the 21st. “Every manager thinks that but they don’t say it because they’re scared it would be ridiculous.”
This, of course, led to widespread mocking of Wenger because it is ridiculous to think a side could go through a league campaign without losing a game.
But Arsene Wenger was no ordinary manager and the team he put together at Arsenal no ordinary team.