2002–03 Arsenal F.C. Season
The 2002–03 season was Arsenal's eleventh season in the Premier League and 83rd consecutive season in the top division of English football. The club retained the FA Cup – the first team to do so since Tottenham Hotspur in 1982, but lost out in the Premier League to Manchester United, having started March with an eight-point lead. In the UEFA Champions League, defeat to Valencia in the second group stage meant Arsenal exited the competition at the same round for the second successive year.
Arsenal began the new campaign as league and cup double winners, and manager Arsène Wenger sought improvement in the Champions League, a competition the club failed in. The retirement of defender Tony Adams meant French midfielder Patrick Vieira was appointed as captain; Pascal Cygan was signed as a replacement in defence. Other recruitments included defensive midfielders Gilberto Silva and Kolo Touré, with goalkeepers Alex Manninger and Richard Wright departing to join Espanyol and Everton respectively.
In the league, a 4–1 win against Leeds United in September meant the club broke the record for scoring in consecutive games (47), and away league games without defeat (22). The club began 2003 in first position, but a draw to Aston Villa in April allowed Manchester United to move joint top. A further draw at Bolton Wanderers meant the league championship was, mathematically, out of Arsenal's hands and defeat to Leeds a week after meant the team finished in second position. Consolation came in retaining the FA Cup; a solitary goal scored by midfielder Robert Pirès was enough to beat Southampton in the 2003 FA Cup Final.
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