Arsenal vs. Southampton: Ranking the Best 5 Players to Swap Saints for Gunners
They play a similar style of technical football, with a particular emphasis on youth development and the promotion of players from within, rather than solving problems in the transfer market. It's no coincidence, then, that there have been several players who swapped sides over the years.
Three former Saints now play for Arsenal and a couple more made a huge impact in north London after playing for Southampton. Let's take a look at who has worn both shirts.
5. Calum Chambers
There have not been that many players to make this particular switch, so Calum Chambers makes this list.
The Englishman has not played for either club for very long, of course, as he is only 19 years old. But he is already a valuable asset to both Arsenal and the English national team, for whom he recently was called up.
Chambers demonstrates vast potential and maturity at both his natural right back and center back positions; at times, he seems to have the technique and poise of a player several years his senior.
Such is his versatility that Arsene Wenger has said he wants to see him end up in defensive midfield. It'll be interesting to see when he makes the move.
4. Steve Williams
Steve Williams was part of a transitory period at Arsenal after he arrived, spanning two managers and two eras.
A boyhood Arsenal fan, he was very promising when he signed in the winter of 1984, making his debut in the north London derby against Tottenham and keeping his spot in midfield for the rest of the season.
But despite making almost 100 league appearances as a Gunner, Williams' time at Highbury was marred by hamstring and toe injuries that kept him out for prolonged periods. By the time he got back to peak form, George Graham had put Michael Thomas in his place and he became a less essential player.
3. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
It's hard to believe that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain arrived in the summer of 2011 at the age of just 17.
He was Southampton's wunderkind du jour at the time and was being courted by Manchester United before Arsenal swooped in and snatched him for about £15 million.
There was some consternation about signing a raw teenage prospect after Cesc Fabregas had left, but Oxlade-Chamberlain has already proven to be an outstanding player.
With his combination of vision, pace and goalscoring ability, he has been arguably Arsenal's best player this season. The Ox is exceptionally versatile and could become one of the most dynamic players in the Premier League within a few years.
2. Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott is, in many ways, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 1.0: a speedy winger signed from Southampton as a young teen with tremendously high expectations.
Walcott struggled for years to meet them. He only seemed to show potential when his tremendous speed took him past hapless defenders. But what to do with the ball afterward?
Though his current (and soon-to-be-over) absence due to an ACL tear makes it easy to forget his recent maturation, Walcott has become an essential cog in Arsenal's attacking machine during the last two seasons. He has bulked up and added a keen eye for goal to his repertoire, making him a constant goal-poaching threat.
Arsenal will look a much better team when he finally returns to the pitch.
1. Ted Drake
Ranking 31st in Arsenal.com's list of the club's 50 greatest-ever players, Ted Drake was an absolute goalscoring machine during the 11 years he played for the Gunners.
He signed and played during the most successful spell in Arsenal's history (before Arsene Wenger came in, of course). Paired with the lethal Cliff Bastin, he scored a grand total of 136 goals in 182 games.
Drake was equally potent at Southampton during his younger days, scoring 47 in 71 league appearances for the Saints. His magnum opus was a seven-goal performance against Aston Villa during the 1935-36 season.
Though his professional career was cut short by a spell in the Royal Air Force during World War Two, he still left his mark on Arsenal as one of the best players in the history of the club.