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2003–04 FA Premier League

2003–04 FA Premier League

Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira lifting the trophy at Highbury

Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira lifting the trophy at Highbury

The 2003–04 FA Premier League (known as the FA Barclaycard Premiership for sponsorship reasons) was the 12th season of the Premier League. Arsenal were the champions and Chelsea, who had spent heavily throughout the season, were the runners up. Arsenal ended 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).

[[LINK|lang_en|Premier_League|FA Premier League]]
Dates16 August 2003–15 May 2004
3rd Premier League title
13th English title
RelegatedWolverhampton Wanderers
Leicester City
Leeds United
Champions LeagueArsenal
Manchester United
UEFA CupNewcastle United
Matches played380
Goals scored1,012 (2.66 per match)
Top goalscorerThierry Henry (30 goals)
Biggest home winPortsmouth 6–1 Leeds United
(8 November 2003)
Chelsea 5–0 Newcastle United
(9 November 2003)
Arsenal 5–0 Leeds United
(16 April 2004)
Biggest away winWolverhampton Wanderers 0–5 Chelsea
(20 September 2003)
Leicester City 0–5 Aston Villa
(31 January 2004)
Highest scoringManchester City 6–2 Bolton Wanderers
(18 October 2003)
Tottenham 4–4 Leicester City
(22 February 2004)
Middlesbrough 5–3 Birmingham City
(20 March 2004)
Longest winning run9 games[5]
Longest unbeaten run38 games, '[5]
Longest winless run14 games[5]
Manchester City
Longest losing run6 games[5]
Leeds United
Highest attendance67,758
Manchester United v Southampton
(31 January 2004)
Lowest attendance13,981
Fulham v Blackburn Rovers
(12 April 2004)

Season summary

Having qualified for the Champions' League the previous season, Chelsea were 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 £25 million pre-season 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.[6] City themselves had just moved from Maine Road to the City of Manchester Stadium.[7]

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 Premier League, Arsène Wenger's team suffered disappointment in the cup competitions. They were knocked-out by League Cup eventual winners Middlesbrough in the semi-finals. 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 aggregate). These blows in the FA Cup and Champions League came within a few days of each other, and it was feared that Arsenal might squander their lead of the Premier League 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.

The three relegation spots were occupied by three teams bracketed together on 33 points. Wolves and Leicester City followed the trend of many other newly promoted Premier League clubs and were relegated just one season after reaching the top division. The other relegation place went to Leeds United, whose playing fortunes had dipped in the past two seasons after David O'Leary was sacked as manager and club debts had risen so high that many star players had to be sold. As a result, Leeds were finally relegated from the Premier League after 14 years of top division football – just three seasons after they had reached the Champions League semifinals.

In his third season as Middlesbrough manager, Steve McClaren had guided the Teessiders to their first ever major trophy – sealed with a 2–1 win over Bolton Wanderers in the League Cup final. McClaren was also the first English manager to win a major trophy since Brian Little guided Aston Villa to League Cup success in 1996. He was also the first manager to take Middlesbrough into European competition – they would be competing in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup.


Twenty teams competed in the league – the top seventeen teams from the previous season and the three teams promoted from the First Division. The promoted teams were Portsmouth, Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, returning to the top flight after an absence of fifteen, one and nineteen years respectively. This was also Portsmouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers' first season in the Premier League. They replaced West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland after spending time in the top flight for ten, one and four years respectively.

Stadiums and Locations

Locations of the 2003–04 Premier League teams

Locations of the 2003–04 Premier League teams

Greater London Premier League football clubs

Greater London Premier League football clubs

West Midlands Premier League football clubs

West Midlands Premier League football clubs

ArsenalLondon(Highbury)Arsenal Stadium38,419
Aston VillaBirmingham(Aston)Villa Park42,553
Birmingham CityBirmingham(Bordesley)St Andrew's30,079
Blackburn RoversBlackburnEwood Park31,367
Bolton WanderersBoltonReebok Stadium28,723
Charlton AthleticLondon(Charlton)The Valley27,111
ChelseaLondon(Fulham)Stamford Bridge42,360
EvertonLiverpool(Walton)Goodison Park40,569
FulhamLondon(Fulham)Loftus Road[1]18,493
Leeds UnitedLeedsElland Road40,242
Leicester CityLeicesterKing Power Stadium32,312
Manchester CityManchesterCity of Manchester Stadium[2]48,000
Manchester UnitedOld TraffordOld Trafford68,217
MiddlesbroughMiddlesbroughRiverside Stadium35,049
Newcastle UnitedNewcastle upon TyneSt James' Park52,387
PortsmouthPortsmouthFratton Park20,220
SouthamptonSouthamptonSt Mary's Stadium32,505
Tottenham HotspurLondon(Tottenham)White Hart Lane36,240
Wolverhampton WanderersWolverhamptonMolineux Stadium29,303

Personnel and kits

TeamManagerCaptainKit manufacturerShirt sponsor
ArsenalFranceArsène WengerFrancePatrick VieiraNikeO2
Aston VillaRepublic of IrelandDavid O'LearySwedenOlof MellbergDiadoraRover
Birmingham CityEnglandSteve BruceRepublic of IrelandKenny CunninghamLe Coq SportifFlybe.com
Blackburn RoversScotlandGraeme SounessEnglandGarry FlitcroftKappaHSA
Bolton WanderersEnglandSam AllardyceNigeriaJay-Jay OkochaReebokReebok
Charlton AthleticEnglandAlan CurbishleyRepublic of IrelandMatt HollandJomaAll:Sports
ChelseaItalyClaudio RanieriFranceMarcel DesaillyUmbroFly Emirates
EvertonScotlandDavid MoyesScotlandDavid WeirPumaKejian
FulhamWalesChris ColemanEnglandLee ClarkPumadabs.com
Leeds UnitedScotlandEddie Gray (caretaker)ScotlandDominic MatteoNikeWhyte and Mackay
Leicester CityEnglandMicky AdamsScotlandMatt ElliottLe Coq SportifAlliance & Leicester
LiverpoolFranceGérard HoullierEnglandSteven GerrardReebokCarlsberg
Manchester CityEnglandKevin KeeganFranceSylvain DistinReebokFirst Advice
Manchester UnitedScotlandSir Alex FergusonRepublic of IrelandRoy KeaneNikeVodafone
MiddlesbroughEnglandSteve McClarenEnglandGareth SouthgateErreàDial-a-Phone
Newcastle UnitedEnglandSir Bobby RobsonEnglandAlan ShearerAdidasNorthern Rock
PortsmouthEnglandHarry RedknappEnglandTeddy SheringhamPompey Sportty
SouthamptonScotlandPaul SturrockNorwayClaus LundekvamSaintsFriends Provident
Tottenham HotspurEnglandDavid Pleat (caretaker)EnglandJamie RedknappKappaThomson Holidays
Wolverhampton WanderersEnglandDave JonesEnglandPaul InceAdmiralDoritos

Managerial changes

TeamOutgoing managerManner of departureDate of vacancyPosition in tableIncoming managerDate of appointment
FulhamWalesChris Coleman (caretaker)End of caretaker period12 May 2003Pre-seasonWalesChris Coleman15 May 2003[8]
Aston VillaEnglandGraham TaylorResigned14 May 2003[9]Republic of IrelandDavid O'Leary20 May 2003
Tottenham HotspurEnglandGlenn HoddleSacked22 September 2003[10]18thEnglandDavid Pleat (caretaker)24 September 2003[11]
Leeds UnitedEnglandPeter Reid10 November 200320thScotlandEddie Gray (caretaker)10 November 2003
SouthamptonScotlandGordon StrachanResigned13 February 200412thScotlandPaul Sturrock4 March 2004

League table

The Premier League commissioned a unique gold trophy to commemorate Arsenal's achievement of winning the league title without defeat.

The Premier League commissioned a unique gold trophy to commemorate Arsenal's achievement of winning the league title without defeat.

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPtsQualification or relegation
1Arsenal(C)38261207326+4790Qualification for the Champions League group stage
3Manchester United3823696435+2975Qualification for the Champions League third qualifying round[3]
5Newcastle United38131785240+1256Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round
6Aston Villa381511124844+456
7Charlton Athletic381411135151053
8Bolton Wanderers381411134856−853
10Birmingham City381214124348−550
11Middlesbrough38139164452−848Qualification for the UEFA Cup first round[4]
14Tottenham Hotspur38136194757−1045
15Blackburn Rovers38128185159−844
16Manchester City38914155554+141
18Leicester City(R)38615174865−1733Relegation to the Football League Championship
19Leeds United(R)3889214079−3933
20Wolverhampton Wanderers(R)38712193877−3933

Season statistics

Total goals: 1,012
Average goals per game: 2.66


Aston Villa0–22–20–21–12–13–20–03–02–03–10–01–10–20–20–02–11–01–03–2
Blackburn Rovers0–20–21–13–40–12–32–10–21–21–01–32–31–02–21–11–21–11–05–1
Bolton Wanderers1–12–20–12–20–00–22–00–24–12–22–21–31–22–01–01–00–02–01–1
Charlton Athletic1–11–21–13–21–24–22–23–10–12–23–20–30–21–00–01–12–12–42–0
Leeds United1–40–00–22–10–23–31–11–13–23–22–22–10–10–32–21–20–00–14–1
Leicester City1–10–50–22–01–11–10–41–10–24–00–01–11–40–01–13–12–21–20–0
Manchester City1–24–10–01–16–21–10–15–10–01–10–32–24–10–11–01–11–30–03–3
Manchester United0–04–03–02–14–02–01–13–21–31–11–00–13–12–30–03–03–23–01–0
Newcastle United0–01–10–10–10–03–12–14–23–11–03–11–13–01–22–13–01–04–01–1
Tottenham Hotspur2–22–14–11–00–10–10–13–00–32–14–42–11–11–20–01–04–31–35–2
Wolverhampton Wanderers1–30–41–12–21–20–40–52–12–13–14–31–11–01–02–01–10–01–40–2


  • Most wins – Arsenal (26)

  • Fewest wins – Leicester City (6)

  • Most draws – Newcastle United (17)

  • Fewest draws – Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur (6)

  • Most losses – Leeds United (21)

  • Fewest losses – Arsenal (0)

  • Most goals scored – Arsenal (73)

  • Fewest goals scored – Wolverhampton Wanderers (38)

  • Most goals conceded – Leeds United (79)

  • Fewest goals conceded – Arsenal (26)

Top scorers

1FranceThierry HenryArsenal30
2EnglandAlan ShearerNewcastle United22
3FranceLouis SahaManchester United/Fulham20
NetherlandsRuud van NistelrooyManchester United20
5FinlandMikael ForssellBirmingham City17
6FranceNicolas AnelkaManchester City16
ColombiaJuan Pablo ÁngelAston Villa16
EnglandMichael OwenLiverpool16
10EnglandJames BeattieSouthampton14
Republic of IrelandRobbie KeaneTottenham Hotspur14
FranceRobert PiresArsenal14


Monthly awards

MonthManager of the MonthPlayer of the Month
AugustArsène Wenger (Arsenal)Teddy Sheringham (Portsmouth)
SeptemberClaudio Ranieri (Chelsea)Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
OctoberSir Bobby Robson (Newcastle United)Alan Shearer (Newcastle United)
NovemberSam Allardyce (Bolton Wanderers)Jay-Jay Okocha (Bolton Wanderers)
DecemberSir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
JanuarySam Allardyce (Bolton Wanderers)Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
FebruaryArsène Wenger (Arsenal)Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal) & Edu (Arsenal)
MarchClaudio Ranieri (Chelsea)Mikael Forssell (Birmingham City)
AprilHarry Redknapp (Portsmouth)Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Annual awards

LMA Manager of the Year

The LMA Manager of the Year award was won by Arsène Wenger.[12]

PFA Players' Player of the Year

The PFA Players' Player of the Year award for 2004 was won by Thierry Henry of Arsenal for the second successive year.[13]

The shortlist for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award was as follows:

  • Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

  • Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

  • Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

  • Jay-Jay Okocha (Bolton Wanderers)

  • Alan Shearer (Newcastle United)

  • Patrick Vieira (Arsenal)

PFA Young Player of the Year

The PFA Young Player of the Year award was won by Scott Parker of Chelsea F.C..

The shortlist for the award was as follows:[14]

  • Glen Johnson (Chelsea)

  • Scott Parker (Charlton Athletic/Chelsea)

  • Wayne Rooney (Everton)

  • John Terry (Chelsea)

  • Kolo Touré (Arsenal)

  • Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City)

PFA Team of the Year

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard (Manchester United)Defence: Lauren, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell (all Arsenal), John Terry (Chelsea)Midfield: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires (both Arsenal), Frank Lampard (Chelsea)Attack: Thierry Henry (Arsenal), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United)

PFA Fans' Player of the Year

Thierry Henry of Arsenal was named the PFA Fans' Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Henry was the first player to win this award twice.[15][16]

FWA Footballer of the Year

The FWA Footballer of the Year award for 2004 was won by Thierry Henry. The Arsenal forward picked up a remarkable 87% of the votes.[17]

Premier League Fair Play Award

The Premier League Fair Play Award merit is given to the team who has been the most sporting and best behaved team. Champions Arsenal won this.[18][19]

Behaviour of the Public League

Given to the best-behaved fans, Arsenal won this, thus achieving a fair play double.[18]

Premier League Manager of the Year

Arsène Wenger won the Premier League Manager of the Year award. His team won 26 games, losing 0 and drawing 12 scoring 73 goals, conceding 26.[20]


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