Liverpool's failed unbeaten Premier League champions bid shows brilliance of Arsenal 'Invincibles'

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Nicol: Liverpool have been sliding since the winter break (1:08)

Steve Nicol believes Jurgen Klopp needs to make changes after Liverpool's shocking 3-0 loss to Watford. (1:08)

They have an all-gold version of the Premier League trophy inside the Arsenal boardroom at the Emirates Stadium, and for good reason. It isn't easy to go through a full league season without suffering a defeat. Having done so during the 2003-04 campaign, Arsene Wenger's "Invincibles" were awarded the unique gold replica of the champions' trophy to mark their achievement.

Until Watford pulled off their stunning 3-0 victory over runaway leaders Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday, it had seemed that the Premier League would have to forge another golden version of their trophy and send it up to Anfield for Jurgen Klopp and his players. But while Liverpool are still on course to break all kinds of records this season -- most points, most wins, biggest winning margin and earliest title triumph are all still in play -- they will not join Arsenal as champions who have won the Premier League without suffering a defeat.

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Liverpool may yet win the argument as the best team ever to win the Premier League, but however that debate plays out, Arsenal will continue to hold the proud distinction of being the only side to be invincible over a 38-game season. And with Watford ending Liverpool's long unbeaten run Saturday, it is perhaps an appropriate time to give Wenger's "Invincibles" due credit for their achievement.

The passage of time has not diminished Arsenal's feat, but such has been Liverpool's dominance this season that the manner of the Gunners' triumph has led to some revisionism over the true quality of their success. It has been argued that the number of draws (12) points to Liverpool being a better, more destructive team that Wenger's side and that Arsenal were happy to settle for a point in games where Liverpool would push for the win.

Already this season, Liverpool have won 13 league games by a single goal, with eight of those victories coming with decisive goals in the final 20 minutes. Liverpool have pushed for the three points, while Arsenal were known for holding onto what they had. During their 12 draws back in 2003-04, Arsenal did not score a goal after the hour mark in any of them, meaning they didn't possess the risk factor that has proven so crucial for Liverpool this season. But they did not lose, and that pragmatism is why they have a golden trophy that none of the other great Premier League champions have been able to win.

The problem with comparing teams from different eras is that those playing in the present day tend to be held in higher regard simply because time can make memories fade. It's been 16 years since Arsenal played out their "Invincible" season and the Premier League has since witnessed the emergence of the great Chelsea and Manchester City teams, plus Manchester United's 2008 Champions League winners and the Liverpool side that is now on course to add the Premier League title to last year's European success.

Arsenal have not won a title since 2004, and their failure to build on the legacy of the "Invincibles" has, perhaps, led to that team dropping down the rankings when it comes to debates about the best teams of the Premier League era. But when Wenger's team is matched up against any of its rivals, it is difficult to argue that they fall short in any area.

Jens Lehmann may not have possessed the same global status as Peter Schmeichel, Edwin van der Sar, Petr Cech or Alisson Becker, but he was still a huge presence in goal for Arsenal and a keeper of genuine class. At the back, Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Ashley Cole were a formidable unit that conceded just 26 goals all season. They had Patrick Vieira at his absolute peak in midfield alongside the underrated Gilberto Silva, with Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires, who struck 18 goals between them, completing a world-class midfield. Then, up front, Arsenal had Dennis Bergkamp sitting just behind Thierry Henry in one of the most potent forward pairings in Premier League history. The squad also contained the likes of Martin Keown, Edu, Ray Parlour, Sylvain Wiltord and Jose Antonio Reyes -- all players capable of slotting in whenever a first-team regular was absent.

It was a team that could blow teams away with pace and power, but also one that would never be beaten in a physical encounter, as proved during the 0-0 draw at Manchester United in September 2003, which resulted in players from both sides clashing on the pitch following Ruud van Nistelrooy's stoppage-time penalty miss.

Arsenal may not have won as many games as the current Liverpool team or banked as many points as Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have managed over the past two seasons, but we should not forget their greatness. And Watford have given us the opportunity to remind the footballing world that Arsenal's ability to go through a season unbeaten should not be forgotten.

That gold trophy is unique for a reason.