The Centurions versus the Invincibles as the best team in Premier League history?
It’s not even a debate.
In fact, to suggest that they are the only two candidates for such a high-falutin’ title is dodgy in itself – you would have to consider Manchester United’s Treble winners, who also won it for the following two years, and Chelsea’s back-to-back champions of 2004-06.
But in terms of the greatest performance within a single league season, pitting Arsene Wenger’s unbeaten 2004 team against Pep Guardiola’s 100-point heroes is a fair question. But it’s also a blindingly obvious answer.
The BBC have thrown the question in the air, asking a panel which includes Gunners legend Ian Wright, for their views on tonight’s Premier League Show.
To us at MEN Sport, it seems a no-brainer.
Going the entire season unbeaten is a phenomenal feat, and no-one is trying to take the shine off what that fabulous Arsenal team did.
But, especially in an age when there are three points for a win and one for a draw, going unbeaten does not even make you a certainty to end up as champions!
Parachute Arsenal’s 2003/04 team into last season, and they would finish a full TEN points behind City.
Advocates of the Invincibles base their entire argument on the notion that football is about not getting beaten.
Which is probably true if you are Jose Mourinho, or George Graham.
But it isn’t. For the pure of heart, and those who truly love the game, football is about winning, and doing it in style.
And last season, City won SIX games more than Wenger’s boys, who managed 12 draws in their 38 games – almost a third of the fixtures.
The Gunners also scored 73 goals, which is an amazing THIRTY-THREE shy of City’s 106 total, while they conceded 26, only one less than the Blues.
Pit the two teams against each other over 90 minutes and it would be quite a spectacle, but a league season is about so much more than that.
Liverpool found that out last season, when they found a way to beat City in one-off – or maybe three-off – games, but could get nowhere near them in terms of consistency.
In fact, Arsenal would have finished runners-up in FOUR Premier League seasons with the record they had that season.
They would have finished a point behind Mourinho’s 2005/06 team, United’s 1999/2000 side, three behind Chelsea’s 2016/17 team and five behind the Chelsea team of 2004/05.
Would there have been so much fuss about the Invincibles if they had gone the season unbeaten and not won anything?
You could bet there would be no open-top bus parade around Islington!
That Arsenal team, with Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires were also good to watch, but – and this is purely subjective of course – not as easy on the eye as Guardiola’s boys.