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  CM 00/01

SEASON 2003/04

We started the season with at Highbury due to the fact that Ashburton Grove was still undergoing some final touches. The opening matches saw us struggling to score, which is rarely seen in recent seasons. Despite registering 4 wins, we could only manage to score 6 goals. That came against Watford (1-0), Middlesbrough (1-0), Liverpool (2-0) and Newcastle (2-1). There was nothing I could do, the strikers were missing chances that came their way and teams are beginning to show their defensive side when we take on them.

The Champions League Phase 1 draw saw us in a group together with Feyenoord, Club Brugge and Besiktas. We were in uncharted waters, as we never faced these teams before. But our qualification was never in doubt when we took on Feyenoord for Arsenal's last game at Highbury. 3 goals in the opening 20 minutes from Parlour (2) and a Bergkamp penalty saw us overcoming the Dutch team by a 4-1 scoreline. We even had to play an hour with just 10 men after Canoville was sent off in the 24th minute for a rough challenge. Parlour scored his 50th Arsenal goal in the match. A win against Club Brugge (2-0) soon followed and we entertained Turkish side Besiktas at Ashburton Grove next.

A capacity crowd of 70,000 fans turned up at Ashburton Grove for the match. 61,750 were on hand to see us play Southampton early in the week for the first ever match at Ashburton Grove. Besiktas were overwhelmed by the crowd at it showed when Vieira scored in the 2nd minute via a corner. GOAL! 10 minutes later, Joe Cole headed the ball towards Henry who sprinted into the area. GOAL! Before Besiktas could react, Saviola dribbled his way as though it was an exhibition match through the Besiktas defense and put Arsenal 3-0 up. In the 20th minute, Saviola turned provider when his through pass found Pires unmarked in the area. GOAL! Just when Besiktas thought that halftime was coming, Pires connected with Vieira's pass in the penalty box. GOAL! 5-0 at halftime and we were high and dry in this match. The second half produced a goal scored by Durmus but that was all Besiktas could muster up. Final score, 5-1 to Arsenal.[ScreenShot]

We continued our run of wins over Manchester City (3-2), Derby (4-2) and title-hopefuls Aston Villa (3-0). That put us firmly in the driving seat at the top of the table. We completed our Phase 1 group matches as a mere formality when we finished off Besiktas (3-1), Feyenoord (3-1) and Club Brugge (4-1). We have never had such an easy time before in the Champions League. The Phase 2 draw saw Porto, Lokomotiv Moscow and Leverkusen being drawn against us. It was a tough group in my opinion and that was proven when we beat Porto (2-0) but then could only draw 2-2 away in Moscow.

The young talents I bought for my Reserves played amazingly well in the League Cup beating Portsmouth (1-0), Leeds United (3-0) and Wigan (2-1) to reach the Semi-Finals against West Bromwich Albion. David Noble was playing his heart out as the new designated captain of the team. He scored in every match. Prior to this I bought Gabriel Westin from Middlesbrough to beef up my goalkeeping department. This heralded the departure of Manninger to Inter Milan for a whopping £7.5 million.

Then came the top-of-the-table clash with archrivals Chelsea. Stamford Bridge was the venue and Chelsea had to win to bridge the gap. Arsenal started out defensively as I knew that Ranieri would definitely play all his strikers. The move turned out to be true and we were under constant attacks but thanks to the heroics of Frey, Chelsea were kept at bay. Just before half time, Pires dribbled his way through and centered a ball for Henry. GOAL! 5 minutes after the break, Chelsea scored the equalizer when Hasselbaink thundered a shot past Frey. Both teams were happy with the result but I was still urging my team to finish them off. Joe Cole responded well and he scored in the 65th minute to give us a one-goal lead. The lead lasted for the whole match and we won. Ranieri later conceded the title chase to us at the post-match interview. What made it more interesting was that this was our 11th match and Chelsea's 13th.

  ARSENAL FC
  Season 03/04 :
  Pre-Season
  Part 1
  Part 2
  Part 3
  Part 4
  Post-Season

  Season 04/05 :
  Pre-Season
  Part 1
  Part 2
  Part 3
  Part 4
  Post-Season

  Season 05/06 :
  Pre-Season
  Part 1
  Part 2
  Part 3
  Part 4
  Post-Season




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