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Rating the 11 players to play for Arsenal and Chelsea in the Premier League era

Arsenal and Chelsea may not be one of the capital’s traditional rivalries but it is one which has intensified in the modern era, the emergence of the latter as a powerhouse of English football leading to increased animosity in the battle to be London’s biggest club.

Despite the fierce nature of clashes between the two clubs, however, their rivalry has not prevented several players from representing both sides throughout the Premier League era, with 11 stars having adorned the colours of both Arsenal and Chelsea in the division.

We’ve decided to look back at each of the stars to cross the capital divide and rate their impact at both clubs:

Emmanuel Petit

Amongst a collection of French footballers who joined Arsene Wenger at Arsenal during the early years of his career in English football, the midfielder was a pivotal presence in the first successes of Le Professeur’s dynasty in north London.

Petit instantly formed a formidable midfield partnership with compatriot Patrick Vieira, the duo at the forefront of an impressive Arsenal side which delivered a domestic double during the 1997/98 season.

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The pony-tailed Petit was an intelligent defensive midfielder with a fine left foot, one which scored the third goal during France’s World Cup final victory over Brazil in 1998 as his impressive performances for Arsenal transferred onto the national stage.

He spent three seasons with the Gunners combining in wonderful effectiveness with Vieira before moving to Barcelona alongside teammate Marc Overmars, though his time in Spain proved unhappy and he returned to the Premier League with Chelsea in 2001.

Petit spent three seasons with the west London side, but failed to produce the same level of performance he had shown at Arsenal before retiring from football.

Rating: 8/10

Ashley Cole

The London local rose through the ranks to establish himself as arguably the greatest left-back in Premier League history, firstly in the colours of Arsenal before a controversial switch to Chelsea.

Cole broke into the Gunners’ first-team shortly after the turn of the millennium with his attacking forays from deep a trademark of an emerging star, his brilliant partnership in tandem with Robert Pires and Thierry Henry down the Arsenal left amongst the most iconic of the Premier League era.

The England international formed part of the side which won a domestic double in 2001/02, before winning a further two FA Cups and playing a key role in the club’s historic ‘Invincibles’ side which completed an entire league season unbeaten.

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Cole caused uproar following a move across the capital in 2006 but it proved an inspired decision, adding to an already burgeoning trophy cabinet by winning the Premier League, Champions League and a further four FA Cups amongst his collection of major honours.

A genuine world-class talent at the peak of his powers and a player who performed with almost flawless consistency throughout a hugely successful career.

Rating: 10/10

William Gallas

Heading in the opposite direction during Cole’s transfer to Chelsea was William Gallas, the Frenchman signing for Arsenal after spending five seasons at Stamford Bridge.

Gallas was a fine defender and his versatility proved hugely important, the centre-back playing much of his Blues’ career at left-back as the west London side secured back-to-back Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho.

The defender was used as a makeweight in the deal to sign Cole – after a much-publicised fall-out at Chelsea – and initially enjoyed some success at the Emirates, being appointed as the Gunners’ club captain following the departure of Thierry Henry to Barcelona.

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Gallas made 142 appearances for the club in all competitions over a five-year spell and despite some bright moments often caused controversy, including a memorable on-pitch sulk after conceding a penalty against Birmingham and an ill-advised interview in which he criticised the club’s younger players and was later stripped of the captaincy.

After leaving Arsenal he continued his tour of London’s biggest clubs by signing for Tottenham, a move which did little to boost his popularity with either of his former side’s supporters.

Rating: 6/10

Lassana Diarra

Lassana Diarra was signed by Chelsea as a youngster with the view the midfielder could become the long-term replacement for Claude Makelele, but the presence of the latter stifled a young Diarra’s development as he struggled for first-team opportunities at Stamford Bridge.

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Diarra made just 31 appearances in all competitions before leaving Arsenal in search of regular football, though his prospects failed to improve across the capital during a single season stay as he struggled to win favour.

The Frenchman rebuilt his career with an impressive spell at Portsmouth before moving on to the likes of Real Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain, though his career in London proved one of little impact.

Rating: 2/10

Nicolas Anelka

Arsene Wenger secured the signing of a teenage Nicolas Anelka for a fee of just £500,000 from Paris Saint-Germain and the forward proved to be an inspired piece of business, bursting onto the scene in English football with a series of explosive performances.

Anelka scored nine goals in all competitions during his debut season – including one in the FA Cup final – as Arsenal completed a domestic double, before a prolific 1998/99 season saw the Frenchman named as the PFA Young Player of the Year.

Anelka’s performances saw him attract the attention of Real Madrid and he signed for the Spanish giants in a club-record deal, though the move failed to work out as he endured a nomadic existence taking in a second spell at Paris Saint-Germain alongside short stints at Liverpool, Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton.

Despite often struggling to settle, Anelka was simply unplayable at his very best, possessing blistering pace and a powerful frame which allowed him to easily shrug off opposition challenges.

Chelsea secured his signing following a fruitful spell at Bolton and he enjoyed the most stable period of his career at Stamford Bridge, winning each of English football’s major prizes including a second domestic double under Carlo Ancelotti in 2010.

His finest individual season came the previous year as he hit 25 goals in all competitions, finishing as the leading scorer in the Premier League to win the division’s Golden Boot.

Rating: 8/10

Yossi Benayoun

The Israeli international had developed a reputation as a tricky customer during Premier League spells at West Ham and Liverpool, with Chelsea signing the midfielder from the latter in a £5.5m deal in 2010.

Benayoun struggled to replicate his previous form during a three-year spell at Stamford Bridge, however, failing to win favour and making just 14 league appearances for the club.

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His lack of opportunities saw Benayoun sign for Arsenal on a season-long loan deal for the 2011/12 campaign, where despite an improvement in fortunes – the playmaker scoring six goals in 25 appearances in all competitions – failed to earn a permanent switch.

Rating: 3/10

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas left Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy system in search of a clear pathway to first-team football at Arsenal, and he would not have to wait long for his chance after bursting onto the scene as a precocious teenage talent.

Fabregas starred after being given his opportunity in the Premier League to emerge as one of the best midfielders in English football, the Spaniard a superb passer of the ball who represented a symbol of optimism as Arsenal headed into a new era.

The midfielder spent eight seasons with the north London side and was later appointed club captain, twice being named as the Gunners’ Player of the Season and winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award during the 2007/08 campaign.

The lure of a return to Barcelona proved too strong, however, and he signed for the Catalan club in 2011, only to return to the Premier League with Chelsea three years later.

Fabregas’ career with Chelsea brought the silverware that had eluded him at Arsenal, winning two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and League Cup during his time at Stamford Bridge.

The Spain international left west London to sign for Monaco in January 2019, departing with the second most assists in Premier League history.

Rating: 9/10

Olivier Giroud

Olivier Giroud perhaps stands as one of the most underrated forwards of recent Premier League years, a player whose talents have perhaps not been fully appreciated at either Arsenal or Chelsea.

The France international has never been an overly prolific forward but his role should not be understated, the powerful forward brilliant at getting the best out of those around him as a facilitating focal point for club and country.

Giroud signed for Arsenal from Montpellier and spent an impressive five-and-a-half year spell in north London, racking up over a century of goals in all competitions and winning the FA Cup on three occasions.

The target-man’s deft flicks and physical presence made him the ideal foil for attacking play to evolve around, though he never commanded an automatic position in the Arsenal attack and joined Chelsea in January 2018.

Despite a largely back-up role since moving to Stamford Bridge the 33-year-old has scored an impressive 28 goals in just 48 starts in all competitions, his renaissance last season leading to a contract extension for Frank Lampard’s side.

Rating: 7/10

Petr Cech

Petr Cech stands comfortably amongst the greatest goalkeepers in Premier League history following a glittering career in English football, the zenith of which was a trophy-laden nine-year spell at Chelsea.

Cech signed ahead of Jose Mourinho’s first spell at Stamford Bridge and played a vital role as the club won back-to-back Premier League titles, the first of which was secured after conceding a divisional low of just 15 goals.

Those title successes formed part of a trophy haul that included four Premier League winners’ medals, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the Europa League, alongside playing a starring role as Chelsea became the first London side ever to win the Champions League in 2012.

A joint-record four-time winner of the Premier League’s Golden Glove award, Cech is the only goalkeeper ever to reach 200 clean sheets in the division, with his greatest strength arguably his almost flawless reliability.

He crossed over to Arsenal following the emergence of Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea, and while his powers were clearly on the wane during the final years of his career he helped the Gunners to FA Cup success to take his tally to 13 major honours since moving to English football.

Rating: 9/10

David Luiz

David Luiz has polarised opinion ever since his first performances in the Premier League, the big-haired Brazilian whose displays have often mixed the sublime and the ridiculous, sometimes all in the space of an eventful ninety minutes.

The centre-back has certainly enjoyed his moments and his greatest have come over the course of two spells at Chelsea, winning a succession of silverware including two Premier League titles, two Europa League trophies and the Champions League.

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His best football came under the guidance of Antonio Conte and saw Luiz star in the centre of a back three formation, his confidence in possession and ball-playing abilities seeing him thrive amid the added protection from defenders either side.

Luiz made more than 200 appearances for Chelsea either side of a stint at Paris Saint-Germain, before crossing the London divide to sign for Arsenal last summer.

His debut season proved indifferent to say the least, however, conceding a Premier League record of five penalties throughout the course of the campaign, Luiz – in news which comes as little surprise – failing to rectify Arsenal’s lack of defensive solidity.

Rating: 6/10

Willian

The most recent player to cross the divide is Willian, who brought a seven season spell at Chelsea to an end by signing for Arsenal on a free transfer earlier this summer.

The Brazilian has proven a fine player for the Blues since signing from Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala, twice being named as Chelsea’ Player of the Season and producing consistently despite troublesome periods at Stamford Bridge.

Willian’s list of honours includes two league titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League, whilst his blend of relentless work-rate and technical prowess have marked him out as a fans’ favourite for his performances on the flanks.

The 32-year-old made 339 appearances in all competitions and scored 63 goals, many of them proving to be spectacular with the player possessing a formidable record from free-kick situations.

He crosses to Arsenal as part of Mikel Arteta’s rebuild at the Emirates, where the Spaniard will hope he can bring both quality and experience to his ranks.

Rating: 8/10

Read – Player Analysis: What will Willian bring to Mikel Arteta’s rejuvenated Arsenal side?

Read Also – Six breakthrough stars from the 19/20 Champions League

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