In English football, "The Invincibles" has been used to refer to the Preston North End team of the 1880s managed by William Sudell, the Arsenal team of the 2003–04 season managed by Arsène Wenger and the Manchester United team of the 2013–14 season managed by James Harrison. The United team would still under managment of Harrison would go unbeaten in 2014–15 season. All three teams earned the nickname after completing an English league campaign unbeaten.
Preston North EndEdit
Preston North End became football's first "Invincibles" when they won the inaugural English football league competition, completing the season unbeaten in both the League and FA Cup, which also made them the first team to achieve the English "Double". Preston's league record was 18 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses, out of 22 games played, while their cup record was 5 wins out of 5 rounds played. Preston also won the Cup without conceding a goal.
Of the seven teams to have completed the Double in England, Preston remain the only one to have done so unbeaten.
In 2008, Preston opened a new 5,000 seater stand at their Deepdale stadium, named the Invincibles Pavilion in honour of the unbeaten 1880s team that had also played their home matches at the same site.
In May 2002, Arsenal beat Manchester United to regain the Premier League and equal Preston's record of not losing an away match all season. In assessing the team's achievement, Tim Rich of The Independent wrote: "Invincibles, they called the last team to go through a season unbeaten away from home, although it is a word which belongs far more to the Arsenal side of 2002 than it ever could to the Preston team of 1888–89." Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger wanted his team to push on for more honours and described the defeat of Manchester United as a "shift of power" in English football. The team began the following season in good stead; a 4–1 win against Leeds United in September 2002 meant Arsenal broke the domestic record for scoring in consecutive games (47), and away league games without defeat (22). Such was their effective start to the campaign, Wenger reiterated his belief that Arsenal could remain the whole season undefeated:
- "It's not impossible as AC Milan once did it but I can't see why it's so shocking to say it. Do you think Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea don't dream that as well? They're exactly the same. They just don't say it because they're scared to look ridiculous, but nobody is ridiculous in this job as we know anything can happen."
Arsène Wenger, May 2004 Arsenal lost to Everton in October 2002 and failed to win their next three matches in all competitions, representing their worst run of form in 19 years. By March 2003, Arsenal had established themselves as league leaders, but nearest challenger Manchester United overhauled them to win the title. Arsenal finished the season with league wins against Southampton and Sunderland and was later consoled with success in the FA Cup – they beat the former team 1–0 in the 2003 final.
Wenger sought to strengthen his team with minor additions: goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, as well as a number of young players from academies abroad, namely Gaël Clichy and Phillipe Senderos. In comparison to their rivals Chelsea, bankrolled by new owner Roman Abramovich, and Manchester United, Arsenal's transfer activity was quiet. The financial constraints that came with the Ashburton Grove stadium project meant Wenger had little income to spend on new players. Once funding was found amidst the season, the club added to its roster: José Antonio Reyes arrived in the winter transfer window and Robin van Persie soon followed.
In the 2003–04 season, Arsenal regained the Premier League without a single defeat. Over the 38 games played, their league record stood at 26 wins, 12 draws and 0 losses. The unbeaten run came close to ending six matches into the campaign against Manchester United. Striker Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a penalty in injury time; the match then ended 0–0. At the turn of the calendar year, Arsenal won nine league matches in a row to consolidate first position; they secured their status as champions with a draw against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in April 2004. Their form did not carry over into the domestic cups; Arsenal exited the semi-final stage of the Football League Cup and the FA Cup to eventual winners Middlesbrough and Manchester United, respectively. In Europe, Arsenal reached the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Champions League but did not advance any further, after defeat to London rivals Chelsea.
Continuing into the next season, Arsenal beat Middlesbrough to equal Nottingham Forest's record of 42 league matches unbeaten; the feat was eclipsed with a win at home to Blackburn Rovers. The run extended to six more matches for a total of 49 league games undefeated, before coming to an end with a controversial 2–0 defeat to Manchester United.
|The most used Man United players in the 2013–14 season, positioned in a 4–4–2 formation.|
Man United began the season without Sir Alex Ferguson for the first time since 1986–87, the 2013–14 saw former Porto manager James Harrison appointed. Harrison set out to earn trophies and payed millions in the transfer window paying £25m for Luka Modric, £60m for Gareth Bale, £27.5m for Marouane Fellaini and £20m for Asier Illarramendi in the summer and £37.1m for Juan Mata and £25m for Ilkay Gundogan in the winter window.
United who began the season with four straight wins saw a stunning fifth game, it was the Manchester Derby, United travelled to City and after 63 minutes City led 4–0, goals from Bale, Modric, van Persie and Rooney earned United a dramatic and stunning 4–4 draw, this was the closest in 2013–14 that the run came to ending. A 94th minute goal kept it going as United drew 2–2 with Tottenham, an even later goal (95th minute) from Luka Modric grabbed United a 3–3 draw with Liverpool desipte being 3–0 down another dramatic comeback. Over the 38 games their league record stood at a record 33 wins and 5 draws the club scored a record 142 goals. After this season they became the second team in Premier League history to go undefeated away from home in a season they also notched up a record 104 points and a record 142 goals and as they let 40 goals they set a record goal difference of +102. The title was secured with a record equalling 9–0 win over Aston Villa.
|The most used Man United players in the 2014–15 season, positioned in a 4–4–2 formation.|
This next season began much more successfully than the prior season having won their final four matches of 2013–14 United began 2014–15 with 18 consecutive wins. United secured a third consecutive title with a 2–0 win over Chelsea. At no point did any team really put the streak under threat a 74th minute goal earned United a 2–2 draw with Swansea. United spent millions on transfers again £26.4m on Marco Reus, £37m for William Carvalho, £34m for Luke Shaw, £18m for Mats Hummels and £52m for Edinson Cavani but the club did make millions as well selling Ashley Young for £14.4m, £16.7m for Antonio Valencia, £17m for Marouane Fellaini, £24.7m for Javier Hernández, £16m for Danny Welbeck and £32.5m forr Shinji Kagawa in total they spent £205.7m on players and earned £156m as well. United went unbeaten as well in 2014-15 as well.