It might still be some days ahead but with Arsenal and Chelsea both having qualified for the UEFA Champions League knockout stages, the supporters are already focusing on the titan clash between the two London clubs this weekend in the English Premier League. And for the Gunners supporters the talking point especially for the Gunners fanatics is of course one former player who left the club under acrimonious circumstances to join their arch rivals.
Ashley Cole left behind Arsenal in the summer of 2006 to serve Chelsea and since then he has been observed as a figure of loathing by most Arsenal fans. This perception doesn’t have to do as much with the fact that Cole left at all as with the bitterness that he traded Arsenal for Chelsea. Cole had been nurtured at Arsenal and came through the ranks at the excellent youth academy that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has helped to construct at the club.
But all love for one of the few home-grown players in this scintillating Arsenal team took a bitter turn for the good when Cole came out of the blocks to revive a one-year old skeleton in his autobiography in mid July when he described himself as a “scapegoat” whom the club had “fed to the sharks”. Cole was referring to the tapping-up fiasco that has ensued at the start of the previous season when Cole was found guilty by the English FA of making illegal approach to local rivals Chelsea. He actually blamed Arsenal of not committing themselves enough to help Cole save the situation in 2005.
Ashley Cole missed last season’s derby clash between Arsenal and Chelsea but is anticipated to start the game this weekend. And it is also expected that the Gunners supporters drowning the Emirates Stadium for the match would also try and drown Cole with their intimidating resentment towards him. One can rest assured that every time that Cole touches the ball or makes a challenge, he will be booed and even shouted abuse at. Once the apple of the eye, a rare English gem gleaming brightly alongside foreign rubies, Cole is now a traitor to the Arsenal supporters and would be treated like any other traitor.
Would you be going to the match at the Emirates? If so, then how do you plan to get on with Ashley Cole’s presence in a Blue shirt? If you are watching the match on your television set, how would you react should Cole score against Arsenal? If you are an Arsenal supporter, can you ever forgive your old hero?