Invincibles This Week: Henry hits Leeds for four

Thierry Henry scores against Leeds United in 2004

Each week, we'll reminisce about our incredible Invincible season 20 years on by looking back at what was going on at the club on and off the pitch, as well as remembering key news stories and the pop culture buzz at the time.

Last week, we bounced back from the disappointment of two cup exits by beating Liverpool and drawing at Newcastle United within the space of 48 hours to ensure our unbeaten league season remained intact with just six games to go.

Setting the scene

Jermaine Pennant celebrates scoring for Leeds United

Up next to try and deny us a place in history was Leeds United, who arrived at Highbury in 18th position, just two points behind fellow strugglers Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth but buoyed by the recent takeover that saved the club from extinction, and with current Gunner Jermaine Pennant allowed to play against his parent club.

The feel-good factor had transferred onto the pitch as they had picked up seven points from their previous three matches heading into this one, and were the last team to have beaten us in the league, having ended our title hopes on our own turf a little under a year earlier.

Wenger’s words

Arsene Wenger at St James' Park in 2004

While all the talk remained about our defeated campaign, Arsene Wenger was concentrating on getting the most important part done first: “We now know we need nine points to win the title and I feel that finishing off the job can always be the difficult part,” he wrote in his programme notes. 

“The fact that the two other managers have conceded the title makes no difference. We want to do it and we are conscious that it is far from done yet. It's all still in front of us and these players have enough experience to ensure that they are not complacent tonight, or for the rest of the season. We want to just do as well as we can.

“We may be in the final weeks of the season but we are not looking further than this game. The focus is only on the present, not the future. We are only concerned with what is happening now, and that's the match against Leeds.”

From the dressing room

Gael Clichy playing against Manchester United in 2004

Gael Clichy would be filling in for the injured Ashley Cole against Leeds, but unlike his manager, he was already thinking of remaining undefeated. “I do get nervous, but not as much as before," he said at the time. "We have five matches to go until the end of the season and if we can stay unbeaten in them then we will have achieved something very special. I want, along with every player here at the club, to have that record.

“I don't want to make a mistake so I need to be ready all the time. If I am nervous, I think it is good, it means that I am ready to play and I want to do well."

His 10 appearances would be enough to get him a league winner’s medal, which he admitted he couldn’t have envisaged 12 months earlier. “I didn't think it would have been possible at all. The more games I played, I have thought about it. But now the medal has become a reality and that makes me very happy.”

On the pitch

April 16, 2004

We put on an awesome display and condemned Leeds to their third defeat of the season at our expense, with Thierry Henry producing four goals of the very best during an electrifying display.

Henry's compatriot Robert Pires got the first in the sixth minute but after that, it was all Henry. He galloped through the Leeds defence and slotted home three times and, in between, clipped home a cheeky penalty.

We took every major opportunity that came our way and gave Leeds nothing close to a clear-cut chance at the other end.

In the sixth minute, we were ahead. Bergkamp put Pires clear and the midfielder took the ball in his stride and hit a swerving shot past the desperate dive of Leeds keeper Paul Robinson.

In the 27th minute, Henry scored his first following a superb through-ball from Gilberto, and then three minutes later Dennis Bergkamp exchanged passes with Sylvain Wiltord on the edge of the area, and the Dutchman's flick was handled by Michael Duberry. Henry duly clipped the spot-kick over Robinson.

Henry’s second hat-trick in his last three matches came five minutes after the restart when Wiltord put the Frenchman through who raced clear and guided yet another shot past Robinson.

Then his fourth, and his 38th of the season, came in the 67th minute, as yet again he used his pace to outstrip the Leeds defenders and slot home another classic Henry goal, and take us one stylish step closer to the Premier League title.

Line-up: Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Clichy, Wiltord, Gilberto (Edu 69), Vieira, Pires (Parlour 72), Bergkamp (Reyes 72), Henry. Subs not used: Stack, Keown.

Where we stood

  P W D L F A Pts
Arsenal 33 24 9 0 67 22 81
Chelsea 33 22 5 6 60 27 71
Man Utd 32 21 5 6 59 31 68
Liverpool 33 13 10 10 48 36 49
Newcastle 32 12 13 7 45 33 49

What the press said

Robert Pires celebrates scoring against Leeds United

"When Arsenal lifted the championship in 2002, the players bowed down to injured Robert Pires in recognition of the part he played in that success. This they will surely fall at the feet of Thierry Henry." - The Guardian

"Last night, Leeds United were derailed by the TGV - the Thierry a Grande Vitesse." - The Independent

"Arsenal had waited patiently for 11 months and 35 games to nail a Leeds side who ended their hopes of lifting the title last season with a shock victory at Highbury." - The Sun

Elsewhere this week

Thierry Henry races through to score against Leeds United

Henry and Patrick Vieira were nominated for the PFA Player of the Year award, as our striker looked to retain the trophy for the second season in a row.

Meanwhile Kolo Toure was selected as a contender for the Young Player of the Year prize after a breakout campaign in our defence.

Jermaine Pennant’s loan deal at Leeds was extended to the end of the season as he attempted to help the Whites remain in the Premier League.

Image of the week

Patrick Vieira at Highbury in 2004

Captain Vieira marshalls the Highbury pitch before revealing how he managed to keep his team on track after the recent setbacks. "It's very difficult after a time like that because everyone will come into training and you can tell a lot of players haven't slept well because the defeat has been on their minds. I was also feeling very disappointed of course but my job is just to be very positive. 

"But what is fantastic about this group is that we are not afraid to talk about defeat, we don't hide from these things. The reason we improve all the time is because we sit down and try to work out why we didn't achieve things, where we can improve both as individuals but as a team as well. And the group we have need and deserve to win something this year because we have played fantastic football."

UK number ones

Official top 40: Five Colours In Her Hair - McFly (second week at no. 1)
Album chart: Anastacia - Anastacia (second week at no. 1)
Box office: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (second week at no. 1)

In the news this week

Ricky Gervais at the Baftas in 2004

At the TV Baftas, Ricky Gervais won best comedy performance for the third year in a row for his portrayal of David Brent in The Office, while the show was named best sitcom for the third successive year.

Tony Blair announced a referendum on the proposed EU Constitution. However it would never be held after it was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The super liner Queen Mary 2 embarks on her first Transatlantic crossing, linking the golden age of ocean travel to the modern age of ocean travel.

Find out what happened next as we headed to White Hart Lane with a chance to clinch the championship at the home of our rivals

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

Friendly Match
Ticket Info