Invincibles This Week: Lead maintained at Leeds

Arsenal celebrate scoring against Leeds United

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 were held to a draw against Charlton Athletic but remained top of the table after 10 games, ahead of a trip to Elland Road to take on cash-strapped Leeds United who were struggling at the bottom of it.

Setting the scene

Patrick Vieira and Ray Parlour

The draw at The Valley left Chelsea and Manchester United breathing down our necks, but the fallout from our game at Old Trafford the previous month continued to rumble on. 

Ahead of our trip to Leeds, the FA handed match bans to Lauren, Martin Keown, Ray Parlour and Patrick Vieira, giving Arsene Wenger an added headache as he tried to revive our Champions League fortunes and stay ahead of the chasing pack.

Wenger’s words

Arsene Wenger

The upcoming suspensions of four players gave Wenger plenty to ponder, but he was keen to defend his side’s physicality. “Since that match we have only picked up four bookings in eight games, which I am very pleased about,” he said. “Also, even in that Manchester United game we didn't have many cards, it was not a dirty match. It was a situation that degenerated after the final whistle due to the high intensity and emotion.

“Our target remains to win games without getting yellow and red cards. But as well we have to find the right balance and make sure we fight for victories in a fair way.

“The suspensions will begin with the Birmingham game and l've not decided whether I will call back players from loan yet. We have some young players who can come in such as Moritz Volz, but he's doing well at Fulham at the moment and I want him to get as much experience as possible there.”

From the dressing room

Freddie Ljungberg

Having struggled with injury during the campaign, Freddie Ljungberg was aiming to get back on the goal trail having netted just once so far this season, against Manchester City in August. 

"I think I have hit the post or the bar four times so far this season, and that's just the way it goes," he reflected. "The main thing is that I feel quite good, and I feel quite sharp.

"If those four that had hit the post had all gone in then people would be saying: 'look he's got five goals already this season.' That would be quite a good total at this stage. But playing-wise it feels really good and hopefully the next one will go in rather than hit the post."

On the pitch

November 1, 2003

We maintained our position at the top of the table with a comprehensive victory and a return to the kind of fantasy football we were playing at the start of the previous season.
Wenger’s team were at their fluent, flowing best, allowing Leeds possession in areas of the pitch where they posed no threat before devastatingly catching them on the break.

The home side started brightly but were stung by Thierry Henry in the eighth minute and then Robert Pires seven minutes later, with both goals coming after quick surges upfield. 

Henry added another before half-time when Parlour sped up the right and found Dennis Bergkamp prodded a shot goalwards which beat Paul Robinson, smacked off the base of the post and fell to Henry just inside the area who fired in his second from a tight angle.

Five minutes after the break, Pires fired in a low cross which Sol Campbell mis-kicked however the ball fell to Gilberto at the far post, who calmly slotted his shot into the net to make it 4-0.

Leeds gained a chink of light when Aaron Lennon crossed for Alan Smith to score just inside Jens Lehmann's post, and the England striker would soon strike the base of the upright. Henry was incredibly denied his hat-trick 15 minutes from time when, after Ljungberg's shot had been blocked, his goal-bound shot hit Parlour on the backside who was standing in front of the open net.

However the Frenchman had done more than enough damage, with opposition boss Peter Reid stating: "Once he is into his stride and running at you, it is 'good night, God bless'. He is either going to play a killer ball, have a shot at goal or go past your defenders. I have to say he is a fantastic footballer."

Line-up: Lehamnn, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole, Ljungberg (Edu 71), Parlour, Gilberto, Pires, Bergkamp (Aliadiere 77), Henry. Subs not used: Stack, Cygan, Wiltord.

Where we stood

  P W D L F A Pts
Arsenal 11 8 3 0 23 9 27
Chelsea 11 8 2 1 21 9 26
Man Utd 11 8 1 2 21 6 25
Birmingham 10 5 4 1 9 5 19
Man City 11 5 3 3 22 12 18

What the press said

Thierry Henry in action against Leeds in 2003

"In repeating the result of the corresponding fixture last season, Arsenal barely needed to break sweat."  - The Observer

"Sometimes, amid the sleaze, the hype, the one-eyed managers, the two-faced chairmen, the dopes and the dope tests, it is easy to forget that football can be beautiful. Arsenal provided a timely reminder of that."  - The Times

"Henry's blistering pace devastated Leeds and places manager Reid in more peril." - Mail on Sunday

Also this week

Ashley Cole celebrates scoring against Dynamo Kyiv

A late goal from Cole gave us our first win in the Champions League group stage at the fourth attempt as Dynamo Kyiv were beaten 1-0 at Highbury, but we still remained bottom of the group on four points.

Youngster David Bentley signed a new five-year deal with the club. The 19-year-old England under-20 international had made his debut in the FA Cup against Oxford United earlier in the year.

Jermaine Pennant became the first Arsenal player to play against his parent side on loan when he started the game at Elland Road for the hosts.

Image of the week

Freddie Ljungberg's Calvin Klein advert on a billboard in London

Ljungberg was making headlines away from the back pages as he modelled for Calvin Klein, endorsing their latest range of underwear on billboards around London and on the iconic red buses. 

"I'm constantly surprised by the amount of interest in how I look," he said at the time. "It's flattering, but a little weird — at the end of the day, I'm a footballer."

UK number ones

  • Top 40: Hole in the Head - Sugababes
  • Album chart: Life for Rent - Dido (third week at no. 1)
  • Box office: Finding Nemo (third week at no. 1)

In the news this week

A cameraphone in 2003

Channel 4's soap opera Brookside, on air since the station was launched in 1982, ended after 21 years. The final episode was watched by two million viewers.

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills became parents to a baby girl called Beatrice, who was born a month early in north London.

It was predicted that camera phones would be the hit Christmas present of the year in the absence of high-profile DVD launches or video game consoles.

Find out what happened next as we headed into our first north London derby of the campaign

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Fixtures & Results

UEFA Champions League
Ticket Info