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They Played for Both Clubs (Part One)

Arsenal and Chelsea are big London rivals, although, arguably, before Roma Abramovich bought the club and began to invest heavily in it, the West London side were not regular contenders for trophies. Since then, in recent pendulum has swung the other way, and it is Chelsea who are the more likely to challenge for the major prizes, although Arsenal fans will be hoping that the balance of power can be restored soon.

Over the years, there have been a number of players who have featured for both clubs.

This series begins with players who first donned an Arsenal shirt before later pulling on the blue of Chelsea.

David Rocastle

David Rocastle is an Arsenal legend.

He joined the club as a boy, progressed through their Academy system, and made hs debut against Newcastle when he was 17.He soon became a first-team regular under George Graham, and was known for his skilful dribbling, fierce determination, and ability to score spectacular goals.

Under George Graham he won two league titles and the League Cup and became immensely popular with the supporters. However, a serious knee injury meant that he lost some of his pace, and Graham decided to sell him to Leeds United,

Rocastle, who loved the club, was heartbroken, and so were many of the fans. He played for the South Yorkshire club and then Manchester City, but struggled to rediscover his old form.

At the start of the 1994-1995 season, he signed for Chelsea and went on to play for them 37 times, but injury problems returned to haunt him, and, although he stayed ion Chelsea’s books for four years, barely played in the latter stages of his career with them.

In 2001, he announced he was suffering from Hodgkinson’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer, and he died later that same year aged just 33 years old.

To this day, his name is sung by Arsenal fans, even those who never got to see him play.

Emmanuel Petit

Petit was one of the first signings made by Arsène Wenger, who went back to the club he used to manage Monaco, for the defensive midfielder. He immediately formed a partnership with Patrick Vieira, and the two anchored the side that won the League and Cup double in the 1997 – 1998 season, later that same year both also going on to win World Cup winners’ medals with France.

In 2000, he was sold to Barcelona, along with Marc Overmars, in a  double deal, but he lasted just a year in Spain, before moving back to London, this time with Chelsea. He helped them secure Champions League qualification in his second season, but a series of knee injuries forced him into early retirement after being released on a free transfer.

Nicholas Anelka

Another early buy of the Wenger reign, this time from the PSG academy as a teenager, Anelka, after a slow start, made a big impression at the Gunners, and was a key player in the French manager’s double winning season,

He made 90 appearances for the club, scoring 28 goals, before moving to Real Madrid for a fee of over £22 million. Famously Wenger used the profit he made on the Anelka deal to build the club a state of the art training centre.

Anelka acquired a reputation for moving clubs for big money, moving from Madrid, back to PSG, then to Liverpool on loan, before joining Manchester City. Then it was off to Turkey with Fenerbahçe, before returning to the Premier League with Bolton Wanderers.

In January 2008, he joined Chelsea, and the player nicknamed “Le Sulk” would remain in West London for four years, although he was inconsistent. 

Still under Carlo Ancelotti he did win the League and Cup double with them and picked up another FA Cup winners’ medal as well.

He finished his itinerant career with spells in China, Italy, and India, sandwiched with a  brief return  to the Premier League with West Bromwich Albion.

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