Ashley Cole: Premier League Hall of Fame inductee reflects on Arsenal’s Invincibles

Arsenal's Invincibles were the last Gunners' team to win the Premier League | Imago


Ashley Cole played with Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry in Arsenal's Invincibles season (Imago/Paul Marriott)

Ashley Cole: Premier League Hall of Fame inductee reflects on Arsenal’s Invincibles

Seye Omidiora 14:40 - 25.03.2024

The former left-back divulges what made Arsenal’s team special and explains why he wants no other club matching the Gunners’ record-setting 2003-04 side.

Ashley Cole, on Monday, became the Premier League’s 22nd Hall of Fame inductee. The retired left-back made 385 topflight appearances in the competition for Arsenal and Chelsea, winning three titles.

Ashley Cole at Arsenal

Of his total Premier League appearances, 156 came at Arsenal from the 1999-2000 campaign until his final season in North London in 2005-06.

Cole won two league titles with the Gunners in 2001-02 and 2003-04, with the latter proving to be an unforgettable season in the competition's history as Arsene Wenger's men went the entire campaign unbeaten.

Arsenal’s Invincibles

Cole made 32 appearances in that historic season in which Wenger’s men went the whole season without losing, a feat that remains unmatched in Premier League history.

The Gunners ended the 03-04 season on 90 points, winning 26 of their 38 league matches, scoring 73 goals and conceding 26 — finishing the season with the division's finest attack and meanest backline.

Manchester City and Liverpool have shattered the Premier League points tally in recent years under Jurgen Klopp, but neither have managed to equal Wenger’s historic side.

Arsenal Invincibles
Ashley Cole was part of the Arsenal side that won the Premier League title without losing a game (Premier League)

What Ashley Cole said about Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’

Reflecting on that history-making side, Cole shed light on the team’s overall mentality that kept them going regardless of the challenges faced that season.

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole celebrates with Arsenal teammates after sealing the Premier League title with a draw in the North London derby (Imago/Paul Marriott)

“It sounds arrogant, but our mindset was ‘just win.’ That filtered down from Arsene Wenger,” said the latest Premier League Hall of Famer. “He gave us a lot of belief within the group. Every time we walked on that pitch, we felt we're going to win.

"But we understood the Premier League is so competitive and you have to be on it every single game. With wins comes a target on your back. Thirty-eight games in the league is tough. Everyone wants to play and beat Arsenal.

"We played with a finesse and a freedom within the team, but we certainly had some fighters in there who never gave up. You need something special to come back when you’re 1-0 down, or 2-1 down or 2-0 down.

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole celebrating a goal with his Arsenal teammates in the Gunners' Invincibles season (Imago/Allstar)

"To show that focus, the mentality, the grit and determination to actually get over the line and do it is historic. For me as an Arsenal fan, you can't fathom it. You can't believe we actually did that, and we went through the whole season without losing a game.

"You look back and understand the context of it – going a season unbeaten. We know how hard it is. So, to do that with that group of players was something special to me.

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole and his Arsenal colleagues beat Leicester City on the final day to confirm an unbeaten 2003-04 season (Imago/Allstar)

Asked if he wants any team replicating that Arsenal side, Cole said: "I’ve previously said I wouldn't mind it being done again, but I've probably changed my mind. A few teams have kind of gone close and then fell a little bit short. That says everything you need to know about the Premier League, how good it is and how tough it is.”

Despite being an Arsenal fan, Cole acrimoniously left the Gunners for cross-town rivals Chelsea in 2006, and he would go on to win the Premier League title under Carlo Ancelotti’s management.

The retired left-back has delved into coaching since retiring, working with the England U21 squad. He previously held roles at Derby County, Chelsea and Everton.