The longest unbeaten away runs in English football: Man United's record 29-game run comes to an end
Manchester United’s record for the longest unbeaten away run in English football came to an end following their 2-4 loss against Leicester City on Saturday, October 16.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, who began the 2021-22 Premier League season with a dominant 5-1 win against Leeds, squandered a 1-0 lead to go 1-2 down by the 78th minute before substitute Marcus Rashford equalized on his first competitive appearance for the club since May 26. However, twin strikes from Leicester forwards Jamie Vardy and Patson Daka condemned Manchester United to their first away defeat since January 2020.
Manchester United, earlier this season, went past the previous record for the longest unbeaten away run in English football - 27 games - which was held by Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ up till Sunday, August 29. Let's look at the other teams who previously set the record for the longest unbeaten run in English football.
Manchester United: 29 (February 2020 – October 2021)
Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over as permanent Manchester United manager, there has been constant talk of how the Norwegian would fall in the firing line due to his team failing to set the momentum. And, with their record unbeaten run ending at Leicester City, Solskjaer's time at the club has started ticking.
United began their club-record run at Chelsea last season, with Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire finding the back of the net in a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge. Since then, the Red Devils have been without a defeat in 560 days.
Since then, Manchester United registered 19 wins on the road. The 13-time Premier League champions failed to register wins in their last two league outings - both away - prior to the trip to the King Power Stadium.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has three goals in five Premier League games since his return to Old Trafford, will hope to revitalize the club amidst their recent slump.
Arsenal: 27 (April 2003 – September 2004)
Arsenal has been a club that has often found itself at the losing end of banter talks in the last decade, as they have failed to measure up to the success achieved by the "Invincibles" team in the 2003-04 season.
The Gunners began their record-breaking run with a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on 5th April 2003, in a 2002-03 campaign that saw them finish runners-up to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger's men remained unbeaten in all of their 38 league games in the 2003-04 season, with 11 wins and eight draws in their 19 away games. The attacking duo of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp set the competition on fire with their electric pace, exquisite positioning, and pin-point passing, and it led the team to a pinnacle of success that any English team won't achieve soon. But, despite enjoying sheer dominance in the campaign, there were moments where the north London club were on the verge of a breakdown.
As early as Gameweek six, a 10-man Gunners laboured to a 0-0 draw against Manchester United, with Patrick Vieira sent off for a second yellow and Ruud van Nistelrooy missing a penalty. The next fixture to unsettle them was a trip to Anfield, where Arsenal were still ailing from a hard-fought 3-2 home win. Gérard Houllier's Reds were dominant in the first half, but the Gunners - without the injured trio of Freddie Ljungberg (ankle), Vieira (thigh), and Bergkamp (leg) - secured a 2-1 win to stay atop the Premier League standings after eight game weeks.
The record run continued to the 2004-05 campaign, but it was brought to a disappointing end, as Arsenal, who won their first four away games of the season, slumped to a controversial 0-2 loss at Old Trafford on 24th October 2004.
Arsenal: 23 (August 2001 – September 2002)
Before their record exploits between 2003 and 2004, Arsenal registered a Premiership record for an unbeaten record on the road for the entirety of the 2001-02 campaign and the following season's first four fixtures.
Arsene Wenger's team were going through a transition in the defence, as Tony Adams and Lee Dixon - the last members of the Famous Back Four – were nearing the end of their careers and the likes of Sol Campbell came in as a replacement.
Arsenal's 23-game run started with a 4-0 win at Middlesborough in the season opener, with Henry, Robert Pires, and Bergkamp (two goals) on the scoresheet. An early roadblock came in the north London derby at Tottenham Hotspur, where Gus Poyet's injury-time equaliser cancelled Pires' 81st-minute goal to see the game end 1-1. However, persistence bore fruit for the Gunners as they registered a memorable 1-0 win in their final away game at Manchester United to seal their second league title at the Theatre of Dreams.
While they finished the 2001-02 campaign without an away loss, the countdown to the eventual end of their 23-game unbeaten run began with a feisty 2-2 draw at West Ham in the second game of the 2002-03 season. As many as five Arsenal players were booked as Thierry Henry, and Sylvain Wiltord covered up the 0-2 deficit with strikes in the 65th and 88th minute.
Immediately in the next away game, Arsenal and Chelsea played a heated 1-1 draw that saw seven players shown the yellow and Patrick Vieira sent off within 17 minutes of his booking. Going forward, the Gunners registered convincing victories at Charlton and Leeds before the Londoners were humbled by Everton, with a 1-2 loss that marked the beginning of Wayne Rooney's Premier League legacy.
Liverpool: 21 (January 2019 – February 2020)
The loss to Manchester City cost Liverpool their shot at winning their league title in the Premier League era, but needless to say, it was just the starting point of the Merseysiders' successful quest.
Since then, Jurgen Klopp's men went unbeaten in 21 games, starting from the 1-0 win at Brighton till 29th February 2020 when a 17th-placed Watford handed Liverpool an astonishing 3-0 defeat. During their run, the only test came at Sheffield United, where a 70th-minute goal from Georginio Wijnaldum ended the Blades' impressive defensive show at Bramall Lane.
Along the way, the club registered a 44-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, which was five games less than Arsenal's record run of 49 games in the Invincibles era. Despite that unbeaten run, Liverpool did not win any domestic trophies but managed to become the first English side to hold the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup titles simultaneously.
Sadio Mane (27), Mohamed Salah (24), and Roberto Firmino (12) anchored Liverpool's ambitious run, which saw as many as 104 goals scored along the way.
While their away run was brought to a halt, Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight league title that has constantly eluded them since the Premier League was formed in 1992.
Nottingham Forest: 21 (November 1977 - December 1978)
Long before the current Premiership teams could establish their ascendancy in English top-flight football, Nottingham Forest were the country's headline grabbers.
The Reds began their unbeaten run at West Bromwich Albion, and finally ran out of steam at Liverpool on 9th December 1978. In this spectacular run, Forest pulled off one of their greatest victories in club history when they secured a 4-0 win over Dave Sexton's Manchester United at the Theatre of Dreams. The Red Devils United were languishing in the bottom half of the table, and goals from Tony Woodcock, who scored two, and John Robertson piled on misery for the club that finished 10th at the end of the campaign.
After three matchdays, Forest were taken aback by the quality goal-fest at Norwich City, who came back from 0-3 to earn a 3-3 draw. Peter Withe, Colin Barrett, and Martin O'Neill's goals before half-time gave a sign that the game was done and dusted. However, what they didn't see coming was the Canaries striking back with three late goals and turning the fixture into one of the most memorable affairs in the team's unique rivalry.
At the end of the 1977-78 campaign, Nottingham Forest bagged their first - and only - First Division title. As a matter of fact, the Reds registered as many as seven 0-0 draws in their 21-game unbeaten run on the road.