Chelsea v Arsenal: Four of the best stars to play for both teams
The top game of the coming Premier League weekend is undoubtedly at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea hosting league leaders Arsenal in a match that often provides thrills and spills.
Much of the intrigue around the game surrounds Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming up against the Gunners. The Gabon striker hit 68 goals in 128 appearances for Arsenal after becoming the club’s record signing, but left under a cloud after falling out with manager Mikel Arteta. Aubameyang’s return to the Premier League has yielded a single Premier League goal so far but the 33-year-old will be determined to prove a point against Arteta on Sunday.
Aubameyang is one of a handful of top stars to have played for both Arsenal and Chelsea during the Premier League era. Here, we pick out four players who featured for both teams.
Ashley Cole – 156 games for Arsenal, 229 for Chelsea
Cole emerged for Arsenal as a marauding left-back around the turn of the millennium and became one of the Premier League’s most reliable defenders. He helped the Gunners to win a brace of league titles and three FA Cup crowns, as well as playing a part in the side that reached the Champions League final under Arsene Wenger, ultimately losing to Barcelona.
But having become an iconic player for the club, Cole burned his bridges when he was found guilty of making contact with Chelsea over a potential cross-city move between the rivals. Cole ended up being fined £100,000 by the Premier League and, while he stayed a further year at Arsenal after that incident, his reputation among the club’s fanbase had been trashed.
It was therefore no surprise when Cole eventually made the switch to Chelsea in 2006, leading to the player being dubbed ‘Cashley’ by Gunners fans. When Cole later said he had been left “trembling with anger” when Arsenal offered him wages of £55,000 per week, there was never going to be a road back for him in the eyes of the club’s supporters. Cole’s Chelsea move saw him win four more FA Cup titles and the Blues won the Premier League title in 2009-10, while he is regarded as one of England’s greatest ever defenders thanks to his international displays.
William Gallas – 159 games for Chelsea, 101 games for Arsenal
The Cole deal saw Gallas move in the opposite direction. The France defender had won back-to-back Premier League titles with Chelsea but failed to reach those heights with Arsenal.
In the wake of Gallas departing, Chelsea released a statement claiming the centre-back threatened to deliberately score own goals if he was not given a move. Gallas strongly denied that accusation and hit back at Chelsea, claiming the club lacked class. Despite his actions on the pitch sometimes being questioned, Gallas ascended to the captaincy at Arsenal but talks over his future broke down in 2010. Remarkably, Gallas then moved straight to local rivals Tottenham, becoming the first player to feature for all three clubs in the Premier League.
Petr Cech – 333 games for Chelsea, 110 for Arsenal
Czech Republic stopper Cech was regarded as one of the world’s top goalkeepers for much of his time at Stamford Bridge, though many feel he was never the same after sustaining a serious head injury in a game against Reading, after which he wore a skullcap during matches.
Cech collected three Golden Glove awards during his decade-long stay with the Blues, but after losing his place in the team to Thibaut Courtois he was allowed to move across the city to Arsenal in the summer of 2015, receiving death threats from some Blues fans after the deal.
At Arsenal, Cech broke the Premier League record for most clean sheets and won another FA Cup crown to add to the four he had collected at Stamford Bridge. Cech retired in 2019 and then returned to former club Chelsea as a technical and performance advisor, but he departed the role this year after a change in ownership at the club saw American Todd Boehly take the reins.
Cesc Fabregas – 212 games for Arsenal, 138 for Chelsea
Fabregas emerged from Arsenal’s academy as a precocious teenager and he was regularly featuring in Wenger’s midfield by the time he was 18. Fabregas’ eye for a pass marked him out as an elite talent from a young age and he succeeded Gallas as club captain in 2008.
Long linked with a return to boyhood club Barcelona, Fabregas finally made the move to Barcelona in 2011 having won a single FA Cup during his time at Arsenal. Fabregas never became an automatic starter at Barcelona and three years later he was back in the Premier League with Chelsea, who he immediately helped to win the first of two league titles.
Fabregas also won the FA Cup and Europa League titles with Chelsea and is a rare player to feature for both Arsenal and the Blues and be fondly remembered by each club’s fans