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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 December 2006, 11:20 GMT
Wenger calls for calm over Cole
Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole made an acrimonious departure from Arsenal to Chelsea
Arsene Wenger has called on Arsenal's fans to "respect" former player Ashley Cole who is expected to be in Chelsea's team to face the Gunners on Sunday.

Cole made an acrimonious switch to Chelsea in the summer and Wenger fears a repeat of the death that marred Paris St Germain's recent Uefa Cup match.

"We have a responsibility before the game to calm it down," said Wenger.

"Recently in Paris we had a dead guy in a game and that is not what we want in football. It is not made for that."

A PSG fan was killed in post-match crowd violence with police after the French club's 4-2 home defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv.

And Wenger feels simmering animosity between London's top two clubs could result in similar scenes.

Cole's summer move, after a saga that included a "tapping up" row and a savage attack on Arsenal in his book, has only stoked the fires.

"I'd be happy if Chelsea and Arsenal on Sunday is a fantastic football game and a good promotion for football," added the Gunners manager.

He should get criticism. That is football. It makes the game exciting

Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann on Ashley Cole

"My responsibility is to make sure that it is. I'd not like any stupid aggression, but a feast of football like it can be in England.

"We want Ashley to be respected like everybody else.

"He's done well for the club and has now chosen to play for Chelsea. That's not a problem for me.

"It's important Arsenal beat Chelsea on Sunday and don't focus on one player.

"Our supporters are disappointed he left the club, we can accept and understand that, but that should not stop them from respecting him."

Meanwhile, Cole is fearing the worst at Stamford Bridge.

The full-back said: "I have to be honest with myself. I think I am going to get booed badly.

"I am very well aware that some fans are very angry."

Arsenal eventually received Chelsea defender William Gallas, plus 5m in a transfer deadline day deal. The Frenchman will not play on Sunday because of a thigh injury.

But supporters were further angered by the subsequent publication of Cole's autobiography, "My Defence", in which he declared he had been "betrayed" by the Gunners' offer of a 55,000 per-week contract.

Cole's former Arsenal team-mate, goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, turned up the heat ahead of the game when he insisted the defender should be criticised for his defection to Chelsea.

I didn't move for money - it was a point of principle

Ashley Cole

He said: "Of course Ashley should expect criticism from supporters on Sunday. He should get criticism. That is football. It makes the game exciting.

"If he didn't, it would have meant that he wasn't an important player, but he was. He was a vital member of our squad and we enjoyed some major successes with him."

Cole, meanwhile, still insists he did nothing wrong in making his move from his boyhood club.

He said: "Some people are going to agree with what I have done and some are not. But I didn't move for money. It was a point of principle. I didn't feel I was wanted.

"In any other job, if someone works for one company then goes to work for another it's not a problem.

"But if you do it as a footballer you are greedy and leaving for the money. I'm not going to say it's unfair because footballers have a great life. But it's not easy.

"I think I am going to get stick when I go back there. Yet if I stayed at Arsenal I was still likely to get abuse.

"All through last season I had to deal with it and it's made me stronger and hopefully it can keep making me stronger."



SEE ALSO
Chelsea v Arsenal
07 Dec 06 |  Premiership
Arsenal board let me down - Cole
11 Sep 06 |  Arsenal
Blues beat deadline to sign Cole
01 Sep 06 |  Premiership
Wenger wants Arsenal to keep Cole
15 Jul 06 |  Football
Chelsea, Mourinho and Cole fined
01 Jun 05 |  Premiership


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