In all sports, it’s winning trophies that earns a team’s legacy. However, a team that goes undefeated for an extraordinary stretch of games gets cemented in the minds of the fans as the greatest team of all-time.
These greatest undefeated streaks showcase some of the most overwhelmingly dominant teams that the world of sport has ever seen.
Arsenal (49 Premier League games)
Starting at the tail end of the 2002/03 season, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal team had finished second to Manchester United by just five points. The Gunners won their last two games of the season 6-1 and 4-0, having lost to Leeds on the 36th match day.
Then came the 2003/04 season, which would go down in English football history. Wenger’s team boasted the likes of Jens Lehmann, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Dennis Bergkamp, and, of course, Thierry Henry. These stars went on a run of 26 wins and 12 draws to win the title and earn the nickname, the ‘Invincibles’.
In 2004/05, as defending champions, Arsenal won their first five games, going undefeated for nine before succumbing to Manchester United 2-0. The phenomenal streak ended on 24 October.
With a new manager coming into the club this summer, Arsenal are at 25/1 to win the Premier League next season.
Celtic (69 Scottish games)
In 2017, Celtic managed to conquer the record that their own club had set 100 years prior. Manager Brendan Rodgers forged this shiny new record of 69 games undefeated in all Scottish competitions.
The undefeated streak started off spectacularly with a 7-0 win over Motherwell on May 15, 2016. The run appeared never-ending, with the Celtic team shredding any Scottish unit that stood before them. Until, on December 17, Hearts came out of nowhere to claim a mighty 4-0 win.
Steaua Bucureşti (119 Romanian games)
Holding the record for the longest undefeated run in Europe is Romanian outfit Steaua Bucureşti. Through the 1980s, the team ran by Emeric Jenei and Anghel Iordănescu dominated Romanian football and even performed well on the European stage.
During their emphatic run of 119 undefeated domestic games, Steaua Bucureşti won five consecutive league titles as well as 15 cup matches. When it comes to dominating in the top division, it seems very unlikely that any team will be able to come close to this record.
Manchester United (25 Champions League games)
Through Sir Alex Ferguson’s 27 years at Manchester United, he built and managed many teams that will go down in history as some of the best of all-time. Never one to put much emphasis on losing a game – provided the season was going to plan – Ferguson’s run in the Champions League from 2007 to 2009 was quite spectacular.
With a Champions League win sandwiched in the middle, Manchester United went undefeated from their group stage game of the 2007/08 competition all the way to the Champions League final in the 2008/09 season. A masterful showing from Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Samuel Eto’o, and Lionel Messi proved to be United’s undoing.
Manchester United will open the 2018/19 campaign at home to Leicester City; punters can back the Red Devils at 2/9 to start with a victory.
West Indies (27 international test matches)
In international test cricket, it can be very difficult for a team to establish an undefeated streak. As teams play on many differing pitches, in all sorts of weather conditions, and while dealing with various climates around the world, settling into good form can be very difficult.
From 1982 to 1984, the West Indies test team proved that they could master all pitches and all conditions on either hemisphere. During their incredible 27 test match undefeated streak, captain Clive Lloyd led the West Indies past Australia, India, and England, among others.
Unfortunately, this current batch isn't expected to do as well in the ICC World Cup, for which the West Indies are at 16/1 to win.
Philadelphia Flyers (35 NHL games)
In the NHL, it’s commonplace for the team who tops the final standings to lose around a quarter of their games – due to how demanding the schedule is and how physical the games are. So, when a team goes nearly half of the season undefeated, that’s quite some achievement.
In the 1979/80 season, en route to topping the NHL and being runners-up in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Philadelphia Flyers went on an unprecedented run of 25 wins and ten draws.
New England Patriots (21 NFL games)
When people think of dominant NFL teams, the combination of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick always comes to mind. From the fifth game of the 2003 season to the eighth game of the 2004 season, the New England Patriots won every single game – including the Super Bowl.
The Pats may have seen their undefeated streak come to an end at 21 games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they went on to win the Super Bowl for the second year running.
As you would expect, the Brady-Belichick team is expected to defeat the Houston Texans in their opening game of the season at odds of 4/11.
New York Giants (26 MLB games)
All the way back in 1916, the New York Giants managed to string together 26 undefeated games. This shocked the National League because, in the season before, the Giants finished as the worst team on their side of the MLB.
But, in 1916, towards the end of the season, the Giants went on an unprecedented 26 games without a loss. Despite this, however, they still finished fourth in the National League.
Post-war, the Cleveland Indians boast the undefeated streak record of 22, which they achieved in 2017. Despite strong seasons recently, the Indians are at 14/1 to win the World Series this year.
Los Angeles Lakers (33 NBA games)
Coached by Bill Sharman and headlined by the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, and Jim McMillian, the 1971/72 Lakers managed to disrupt what looked to be the dawning of a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar championed Milwaukee Bucks dynasty.
During the regular season, from their tenth games to their 42nd, the Los Angeles Lakers went on a monstrous undefeated streak of 33 games. In fact, due to the NBA not registering draws and the games going to overtime, it was a 33 game win streak. The Lakers won their division, conference, and went on to be crowned NBA champions.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*