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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Cole omitted from Arsenal squad
Ashley Cole and Arsenal graphic
Cole and Arsenal have been at odds since 2005
Arsenal defender Ashley Cole has been omitted from the Gunners' squad for the Premiership opener against Aston Villa despite saying he is available to play.

The 25-year-old has repeatedly been linked with a move to Chelsea, but no deal has been concluded.

Cole said on www.stellargroup.co.uk that he was available for Saturday's game at the Emirates Stadium.

He added: "I maintain I have no problem with the fans and the manager. They've been very supportive of me."

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger previously hinted at leaving Cole out because of the speculation about a possible 20m transfer to Chelsea.

I hope the fans understand where my grievances lie

Ashley Cole
"If he doesn't go, of course he's a great player," Wenger told Arsenal TV Online.

Wenger said he would be happy to keep Cole at Arsenal should the player choose to stay.

"He has permission to go somewhere if he wants to do it, but if there is not an opportunity for him and the club, he will stay at the club."

Cole has been at odds with Arsenal since June 2005 when he was fined for meeting with Chelsea representatives, that included Blues boss Jose Mourinho, without his club's knowledge.

In the aftermath Cole blamed Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein for his contract dispute and in June 2005 told the News of the World newspaper: "I blame David Dein for trying to force me out of the club I love."

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And in promotional material for his new book this summer the defender criticised the club for making him a "scapegoat" over the tapping-up affair.

He said on www.stellargroup.co.uk: "I hope the fans understand where my grievances lie."

Last week, Wenger, like his Chelsea counterpart Jose Mourinho, said he wanted the saga resolved within the week.

Cole played in last season's Champions League final and was an ever-present at the World Cup for his country.



SEE ALSO
Arsenal v Aston Villa
18 Aug 06 |  Premiership
Henry fears over Cole departure
09 Aug 06 |  Arsenal
Cole signs new deal with Arsenal
18 Jul 05 |  Arsenal
Chelsea, Mourinho and Cole fined
01 Jun 05 |  Premiership


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