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5 footballers who played for both Manchester United and Arsenal

Silvestre
Silvestre is a recent name on this list
Rohit Viswanathan

Manchester United vs Arsenal is a rivalry that has intensified during the Premier League era. The Red Devils were the dominant force during the 90s winning title after title but Arsene Wenger who was appointed as Arsenal manager in 1996 changed all that.

The Frenchman revolutionised the way Arsenal played and was the first man to put an end to United’s dominance in the Premier League as well as providing fierce competition for the title.

Since then, both clubs have come to looking forward to the occasion and most times it has been a heated affair. After Ferguson stepped down, United entered a phase where they haven’t been too successful.

Arsenal haven’t won the league title since 2004 but have finished above their rivals in the last three seasons. Ahead of the clash between the two giants this weekend let's look at the five players who have plied their trade for both reds.

5) Mikael Silvestre

Arsenal fans won’t want to remember this name.It’s safe to say he was on Arsene Wenger’sworst signings but a very popular name in Premier League football none the less. Silvestre joined United in 1999 from Inter Milan.

The Frenchman spent 9 seasons with United winning five league titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League. He made 249 appearances during that spell but was not always a regular starter under Ferguson.

During the initial part of his career, he was the first choice centre back. But after the arrival of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, he found it more difficult to secure game time on a regular basis.

When Arsene Wenger and Arsenal came calling in 2008, he didn’t hesitate.Wenger knew he was taking a gamble on Silvestre given his somewhat shaky reputation and his age. It was a gamble that did not pay off.

Silvestre was constantly committing mistakes and losing sight of his positioning in several critical situations. He ended up making only 26 appearances over the course of two seasons eventually leaving for Werder Bremen.

4) Frank Stapleton

Frank Stapleton is one of Arsenal’s best ever strikers but also had a very good spell with manchester United. He initially went on trial at both clubs but was rejected by United and ended up joining the Gunners.

He made a total of 225 appearances and was their top scorer for three consecutive seasons. He even led them to three FA Cup finals winning one of them. That year he scored the winning goal against none other than Manchester United in a 3-2 win.

Although being one of Arsenal’s best players during that time he was reportedly not happy with the lack of success during that period and decided he needed to move away to try and win more trophies. Sounds familiar right?

So he switched the Red of Arsenal for the Red of Manchester United in 1981. The striker went on to make 223 appearances for the Red Devils and also helped them win the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985.

There are not many in the world of football who have been able to make it big with two of the biggest clubs in history and Stapleton will always have that honour. He also remains the first ever player to score for two different clubs in an FA cup final.

3) Geroge Graham

Geroge Graham is undoubtedly an Arsenal legend and one fans love dearly because of his achievements with the club not only as a player but also a manager. But Graham has the honour of being one of the few players to have played for Chelsea, United and Arsenal.

In 1966, he crossed the London divide by transferring from the West London of Chelsea to the North of Arsenal. He went on to make an impressive 227 appearances from forward and midfield scoring 60 goals in the process.

Graham was very versatile and that allowed then manager Bertie Mee the choice t play him up top or as the inside forward ( A position that lies between the central striker and the winger) which freed up the option of playing three up top in attack.

Graham ended up winning the First Division title in 1971 and also the FA Cup that same year. He left the Gunners for Manchester United in 1972 and played for the Red Devils for three seasons.

He did not contribute much to the Red Devils but his experience did come in handy in that time. He ended up coming back to Arsenal as a manager and helped them lift the title twice in three seasons and also led them to two League cup titles and a UEFA Cup winners cup as well.

2) Viv Anderson

In this list, Viv Anderson is probably the most interesting name with one of most interesting stories as well. Anderson was one of Nottingham Forest's best players during the Brian Clough era when he helped the club to two European Cups and a league title.

Anderson was a very competent right back and was very unlucky not have played a bigger role in England’s setup. But he was the first black footballer to represent the country in internationals and managed 30 appearances for the Three Lions.

Andreson made the move to North London in 1984 for £250,000. It was a time when he was not getting his chances with England but his revitalised form with the Gunners helped him once again to gain a spot in the English national team.

He only won a league cup with the club and decided he needed a change of scenery. Over in the red half of Manchester, a Scotsman named Alex Ferguson had been appointed as the Red Devils new manager.

He was looking to make his first signing for the club and saw Viv Anderson as the perfect player to mark the beginning of his reign. Anderson did not have immediate success with United but did win the FA Cup. Meanwhile, at Arsenal, Geroge Graham led his side to the First Division title in 1989.

1) Robin Van Persie

There is not a single player on this list that defines the bitterness of this rivalry more than the controversial transfer of Robin Van Persie. The rivalry might have intensified in the early 2000s but it turned sour in 2012.

Robin Van Persie, Arsenal's top scorer and Captain decided he wanted to move to Manchester United in search of silverware. The Dutchman had grown tired of not winning anything with the Gunners and jumped ship.

Arsenal were unable to refuse an offer with Wenger admitting the club were not in a financially strong enough position to keep their top players. ‘He scores when he wants’ was a common chant by the fans in tribute to Van Persie every time he scored for Arsenal.

But moving to United was the ultimate betrayal. To rub salt into the wounds, he went on to win the title in his first season with Red Devils which was to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge as he stepped down from the game after an illustrious career.

Van Persie stayed at the club for another 2 years before moving away without any considerable success. But the rivalry between the two giants has never been the same since and with Jose Mourinho now at the helm it is set to become more heated than ever

Edited by Staff Editor

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