Arsenal's Henrikh Mkhitaryan (left) and Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. 28 April 2018.

The 5 players to play for Arsenal & Man Utd in the Premier League era

Manchester United and Arsenal are two of the biggest and most successful clubs of the Premier League era. But in the past 30 years, only five players have turned out for both of the two giants. 

Back when the historic clubs were at the peak of their rivalry at the turn of the century, the prospect of a player moving from one to the other was unthinkable. But it’s become more commonplace since then, with all five players making the switch in the past 15 years.

We’re just looking at those from the modern Premier League era, so legendary names like Frank Stapleton and Viv Anderson miss out.

The likes of David Platt and Andrew Cole also don’t feature, given they were on either side of the divide before the formation of the Premier League in 1992.

Mikael Silvestre

France international Silvestre became the first player to make the switch between the clubs since Viv Anderson moved in the opposite direction in 1987.

Wenger is said to have called his compatriot whilst he was having a medical at Manchester City, and Arsenal swooped in late to hijack the deal.

He might well have regretted picking up the phone, as the defender struggled to find his best form at the Emirates, culminating in a disastrous display against his former club in the Champions League semi-finals in 2009. He was released by Arsenal after two forgettable seasons.

But Silvestre can be filed alongside the likes of John O’Shea as a more-than-handy player that Ferguson worked magic to get the best out of. He made over 350 appearances across his nine years at Old Trafford.

Robin van Persie

No one needs reminding that Van Persie’s move from Arsenal to United remains one of the most controversial in Premier League history.

The flying Dutchman had spent nine years in north London, but that coincided with their post-invincibles fallow period. The only major honour he won as a Gunner was the FA Cup, a penalty shootout victory over United in his debut season, before eight painful trophyless years.

At the age of 28, Van Persie produced the best form of his career, scoring 30 goals to fire Arsenal to third place in the 2011-12 Premier League season. But he was desperate for silverware, and refused to sign a new deal in a bid to move elsewhere. He got his wish with a £24million transfer to United.

The rest is history.

READ: Fergie’s farewell gift: Robin van Persie’s fairytale debut season at Man Utd

Danny Welbeck

Manchester lad Welbeck was a proud graduate of United’s academy, and he went on to make over 100 appearances for the Red Devils.

Unfortunately, injuries denied him the chance to ever quite kick on and become the prolific centre-forward he looked so capable of being.

Dat Guy Welbz joined Arsenal for £16million in 2014 in a bid to get his career back on track, but it was sadly a familiar tale at the Emirates. He was released after five years full of frustration. 

The striker remains well-loved at both clubs for his endeavour and dedication in putting his many setbacks behind him. He’ll always have that last-minute winner against Leicester – we’re still convinced Arsenal are going to beat the Foxes to the title seven years later.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
The Armenian was the absolute business at Borussia Dortmund, to the extent he was deservedly named the Bundesliga’s Player of the Year – ahead of the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski – in 2016.

He showed some promising flashes at both United and Arsenal, but he could never quite recapture that form during his ultimately disappointing Premier League tenure.

Alexis Sanchez

It was a long time coming but Arsenal finally got their revenge for Van Persie. Okay, they didn’t get much in return for star man Sanchez (see above) – but they sold United a busted flush in January 2018.

The Chilean produced the best football of his career at the Emirates. He was absolutely unplayable at times between 2014 and 2017 – as 80 goals and 45 assists in 166 appearances testify.

Arsenal have made their fair share of contract mistakes in recent years, but they chose the right time to wave goodbye to Sanchez. He never came close to reproducing his best form whilst at Manchester United, and it quickly became apparent he was never going to.

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