It’s time for another trip down memory lane, but this time, it’s going to be a little bit broader. While Arsenal beat Middlesbrough 5-3 on this day 15 years ago to keep their famous 49-game unbeaten run going, we find the actual run itself to be more interesting than anything else. Fourty-nine games unbeaten, at the highest level of English football, is utterly perplexing and we can only picture two teams in the current era replicating that: Liverpool and Manchester City.
The game itself was pretty intriguing, as Arsenal looked adversity right in the eye when they went 3-1 down to Boro at Highbury. This was a Middlesbrough team that were actually pretty good and were competing in European competition, to be fair to them, but even so, this was a disaster waiting to happen as the Gunners limped towards the end of their run.
Alas, they were able to pick themselves back up and go again, with the visitors crumbling under the weight of their own expectation. That’s the kind of dynamic we love to see in any game of football, because it’s just so fascinating to see how teams handle that kind of pressure. Arsenal knew it’d be embarrassing to lose their unbeaten run in such a manner, but at the same time, they were able to push on despite that and force their way back into the game (and back into the history books).
What a feeling
The win actually saw the club match Nottingham Forest’s 42-game unbeaten run, which tells you all that you need to know regarding the strength and depth of this team. They would go on to avoid defeat in another seven games after this, and while it came to an end pretty controversially, it’s still an achievement that will be remembered for as long as we all play and watch the beautiful game.
We often wonder what it’d take for Arsenal to get back to heights such as these, but to be honest, we don’t even think they really need to. All they need to do is get into a position whereby they can compete, and where they can challenge with the big boys once again. That’s easier said than done as you can probably imagine, but the inspiration for such a thing is all around us: including with games like this one.
What was your favourite memory from Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run?