Players Who Played for Arsenal and Chelsea

Chelsea are clearly not Arsenal’s biggest rivals, but even so, there is certainly no love lost between the clubs. Stamford Bridge is about eight miles southwest of the Emirates, so the clubs are much closer geographically than some other big rivals, such as Liverpool and Manchester United. However, the fact that the Gunners and Chelsea have not been battling it out right at the top of the Premier League all that often means a really fierce hatred has not been able to develop.

Nevertheless, as teams that typically enter a new season with the same aims – Champions League qualification as a minimum, a title challenge ideally – and hail from the same city, there remains a certain tension and dislike between the two. On the pitch, or at least in terms of the players themselves, this might not always be obvious. However, the fans of both of these London giants certainly gain extra pleasure from beating each other, and that means that players who move between the Gunners and the Blues can expect a hostile reception on their return.

Given the long histories of the clubs – Arsenal were founded (as Dial Square) in 1886, and Chelsea in 1905 – it should come as no surprise that lots of footballers have represented both. Here we take a look at some of the biggest and most controversial instances of a player turning out for Arsenal and Chelsea.

Ashley Cole, 228 Games for Arsenal, 338 for Chelsea

Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole ( | Bigstockphoto)

Ashley Cole was, at his peak, probably the best left-back in the world. Defensively he was superb, with pace to burn and a brilliant ability to read the game, whilst he was also aggressive in the tackle and able to time his interventions perfectly. He came through Arsenal’s youth system and spent several successful seasons with the Gunners, winning two league titles and three FA Cups.

However, he decided he could win more (and certainly earn more) by moving west, so after a protracted transfer saga he went to Chelsea for £5m plus William Gallas (the Frenchman moving Chelsea to the Gunners) in 2006. Leaving was bad enough, and earned him the nickname “Cashley” from Arsenal fans, but things got worse when Cole’s autobiography was released. In his book, the England star described a £10,000 per week increase in his pay offered by Arsenal as “a piss-take” that left him “trembling with anger”!

William Gallas, 142 Games for Arsenal, 225 for Chelsea

William Gallas
William Gallas (@cfcunofficial | Wikipedia)

No other dual Arsenal/Chelsea footballers come close to Cole in the controversy stakes, and Gallas was largely a makeweight in that deal. He went on to play for Spurs too, after four seasons with the Gunners. He was the first player to represent all three of London’s biggest teams. He failed to help Arsenal win any major honours but was a decent signing for them and with most of the negative energy focussed on Cole his move did not attract quite the same attention. That said, he was keen to exit Chelsea, and there were reports he threatened to score own goals if a move was not sanctioned, though he has since denied this.

Petr Čech, 139 Games for Arsenal, 494 for Chelsea

Peter Cech
Peter Cech (John Dobson | Wikipedia)

Čech was a legend for Chelsea but finished his career with the Gunners after a surprise move for around £10m in 2015. Despite the fact that he had dropped down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, which was the reason he sought a move, he received some death threats from Chelsea “fans”. Given he helped them win so much and the club had brought in Thibaut Courtois to replace him, that seems rather harsh to us – but that’s Chelsea supporters for you!

The brilliant Czech stopper won the Premier League four times in west London, as well as four FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League. He added a fifth FA Cup with the Gunners and also helped them to reach the 2018/19 Europa League final (where they were beaten by Chelsea!) and 2017/8 EFL Cup final. A four-time winner of the PL Golden Glove award, Čech boasts more Premier League clean sheets than any other goalkeeper.

David Luiz, 73 Games for Arsenal, 248 for Chelsea

David Luiz
David Luiz (Tânia Rêgo/ABr | Wikipedia)

Brazilian defender Luiz had two spells with Chelsea, either side of just over two seasons with PSG, but left the Blues in August 2019 to join Arsenal. The Gunners paid £8m for the often-erratic centre back, who was subsequently sent off playing against Chelsea in 2020, also conceding a penalty. Better was to come, however, as Luiz was part of the Arsenal team that beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final in 2020, the only major honour (excluding the Community Shield the following season) he won with the Gunners.

Kai Havertz, 51 Games for Arsenal, 139 for Chelsea

Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz (katatonia82 | Bigstockphoto)

Havertz, for so long an enigma, seems to have found a home at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta. He joined the Gunners in June 2023 for £65m and ahead of the 2024/25 campaign has played 51 times for them, scoring 14 goals. He never really settled at Chelsea, managing 32 goals in 139 games, and few Blues fans were sad to see him go. If anything they were simply happy to get back most of what Chelsea paid for the German forward. It remains to be seen how successful he will be in north London but our hopes are high.

Other Players to Have Played for Arsenal and Chelsea

Cesc Fabregas
Cesc Fabregas ( | Bigstockphoto)

Over the years many more players have strutted their stuff in Chelsea blue and Arsenal red. As alluded to earlier, most of these moves have created limited controversy. This is largely down to the fact that the teams are not each other’s primary football rivals. Nonetheless, here are some of the other big names to have played for both of London’s biggest teams.

  • Cesc Fabregas – Fabregas won the FA Cup with both sides (among other honours) and played for Barcelona after Arsenal and before Chelsea.
  • Olivier Giroud – Amazingly, Giroud is France’s leading goalscorer of all time. He’s another to have won the FA Cup with both clubs.
  • Willian – Brazilian wide man joined Arsenal from Chelsea but had just one season with the Gunners.
  • Nicolas Anelka – Anelka got around and played for (amongst others) PSG, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man City, and both Arsenal and Chelsea.
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Almost as sulky as Anelka, Auba’s star shone bright at Arsenal but he was ruthlessly, though correctly, cut by Arteta. Scored 92 times for Arsenal in 163 games before getting three in 21 for Chelsea.