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The 2003–04 FA Premier League season was the twelfth season of the Premier League. In the end, Arsenal went through the season without a single defeat – the first team ever to do so in a 38 game league season and the second team overall (the first was Preston North End in 1889, 115 years earlier, during a 22 game league season) and were crowned champions once more, at the expense of Chelsea, who had spent heavily throughout the season.
Chelsea had been bolstered by a £100 million outlay on world-class players, a spree funded by the extensive financial resources of their new owner Roman Abramovich. Manchester United's attack was as strong as ever thanks to free-scoring Ruud van Nistelrooy, but the midfield was weakened following the pre-season £25 million sale of David Beckham to Real Madrid, and the centre of defence suffered a more severe setback after Rio Ferdinand was ruled out for the final four months of the season after being found guilty of the "failure or refusal to take a drugs test". The case of Rio Ferdinand started a debate about punishments relating to drug testing in football, with there being differing views on whether the punishment was too harsh or too lenient. Ferdinand's club sought to make direct comparisons with an earlier case of Manchester City reserve player who had in fact committed a lesser drug testing offence and as a result escaped with only a fine.
Arsenal, meanwhile, had only signed German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann in the 2003 close season, but French striker Thierry Henry was instrumental in Arsenal's success. Away from the Premiership, Arsène Wenger's team suffered disappointment in the cup competitions. They lost their defence of the FA Cup (which they held for two seasons in a row) after losing to eventual winners Manchester United in the semi-final. Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Chelsea (3–2 on agg). These two blows came with a few days of each other and it was feared that Arsenal might squander their lead of the Premiership for the second successive season, but Arsenal thumped Liverpool only days later. Arsenal's Invincibles finished the season with 26 wins, 12 draws, 0 defeats and 90 points.
Promotion and relegationEdit
Start of seasonEdit
Teams promoted from the First Division 2002-03
End of seasonEdit
Teams relegated to The Championship 2004-05
Final league tableEdit
|1||Template:Nobr||38||26||12||0||73||26||47||90||Champions League Group stage|
|3||Template:Nobr||38||23||6||9||64||35||29||75||Champions League Third qualifying round|
|5||Template:Nobr||38||13||17||8||52||40||12||56||UEFA Cup First round|
|11||Template:Nobr||38||13||9||16||44||52||-8||48||UEFA Cup First round|
|18||Template:Nobr||38||6||15||17||48||65||-17||33||Relegated to The Championship|
Source: Barclays Premier League
Rules for classification:Template:Unicode1st points; 2nd goal difference; 3rd goals scored.
P = Position; Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points;
(C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (Q) = Qualified to respective tournament; (O) = Play-off winner; (A) = Advances to a further round.
|Premier League 2003-04 Winners|
3rd Premier League title