Arsenal lose Cole until the new year

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The Independent Football

Arsenal will have to cope without Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy until at least the new year, with the England full-back ruled out of action for another six weeks. The Gunners are therefore set to be without their two leading left-backs in the December clash with Chelsea and for the home game against Manchester United on 2 January.

Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, had initially been hoping that Cole, who has been out with a fractured bone in his foot since early October, could be fit for the festive programme. However, he has now revealed that the left-back will not return until January at the earliest, while Clichy is facing up to four months on the sidelines with a similar injury.

"Gael Clichy had surgery last night. The only thing I can say at this stage is the earliest it will be is three months, reasonably four months," said Wenger yesterday. "As for Ashley Cole, the earliest he will be back is the beginning of January," he added.