Comparisons with Invincibles premature

Posted by Andrew Mangan

Shaun Botterill/Getty ImagesPatrick Vieira and Thierry Henry helped lead Arsenal to an unbeaten 2003-04 Premier League campaign.

Arsenal's recent form has been impressive, and the upturn in the style of football has seen comparisons drawn with Wenger's greatest team: The Invincibles.

Lest we forget, they went 49 games unbeaten, won the league and did it playing scintillating, attacking football. Teams were beaten in the tunnel. The opposition looked at the players they'd face and knew there was little chance of a positive result.

The media have harkened back to those days, and Robert Pires, a key part of that side, said on Sunday of the current crop, "There is no question that Arsenal are at a high level at this moment. They are playing the kind of football played during my time at the club."

And certainly there's been a big improvement in the kind of football we're seeing from the Gunners. Last season's closing run was functional, at best. The results were ground out without much in the way of the stylish game Wenger and his sides are renowned for.

This season, with the addition of Mesut Ozil, and the form of players like Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, we've seen something of a return to the Arsenal of old. They've melded the resoluteness of last season and added some real attacking verve.

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So much so they sit top of the league, and expectations for the rest of the season have been raised substantially. There's talk of the title, and while it might be a little premature, based on what we've seen of Arsenal and the others this season, it's not at all unreasonable.

However, the comparisons with The Invincibles are very much a case of too much, too soon. The fixtures have been pretty friendly thus far -- the coming weeks see Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool on the agenda, and after that, we'll have a clearer picture of where they stand and what they're capable of.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the team that won the league so convincingly in 2004 contained four of the best players in the world at that time. Alongside Pires, Arsenal boasted Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira.

It's not unusual for the biggest clubs in the world to have a number of the world's best, but for a club like Arsenal it was something entirely out of the ordinary. That those players also had a supporting cast of real experience and quality made it a once-in-a-lifetime team.

At this moment in time, there's really no connection between them and this season's Arsenal team beyond the badge and the colour of the shirt.

This isn't to play down the qualities they possess right now, or to suggest they're not capable of winning something this season, but making a comparison between them and the best Arsenal team anyone has ever seen is unfair.

It sets them up to fail when they don't reach the same heights as their lofty predecessors. At a time when they're looking to make their own mark on the club's great history, people ought to let them be to do that without bracketing them with the very best.


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