Police called in to prevent Arsenal fans abusing Cole

Ashley Cole will be at the centre of a Metropolitan Police operation tomorrow at Stamford Bridge to prevent him being targeted with homophobic abuse that gay rights groups claim has been planned by Arsenal supporters. In the past two seasons, this London derby has been poisonous enough between the two managers, this time it could be the first Premiership match where supporters may be arrested for trying to smuggle in a pink feather boa or an inflatable mobile phone.

It promises to be one of English football's most bitter encounters but with William Gallas injured and likely to stay away from Stamford Bridge, at least one half of that controversial two-way summer transfer between Chelsea and Arsenal will be spared. But that is not all: throw in a disgruntled Ukrainian and two German internationals on opposing sides who have spent the last four months avoiding one another and the stage is set for a classic.

Arsène Wenger yesterday read out a long list of the absent that did nothing to improve the mood around Arsenal. Gallas, Thierry Henry and Tomas Rosicky all injured, Kolo Touré missing through suspension. Over at Chelsea's training ground in Surrey, Michael Ballack was asked why it was Arsenal played much more attractive football than Chelsea. "They used to say that about us at Bayer Leverkusen," he replied, "but we never won anything."

The pot is simmering nicely, although things could turn ugly depending on the nature of the chants towards Cole from Arsenal's expected 3,100 fans. The matter was drawn to the attention of the Metropolitan police by Peter Tatchell's OutRage! gay rights group which said Chelsea stewards would be checking fans' bags for "homophobic material" while police officers would hand out "anti-homophobic leaflets". Offensive chants will result in arrests and Arsenal have issued a statement telling their fans that "inflatable mobiles or fake bank notes" will not be permitted.

Cole has made it clear that he is not gay although he can expect plenty of stick for his part in the distasteful saga that led to his departure from Arsenal in August. Yesterday, Wenger appealed for all sides not to "make a war" out of the game and that the managers both had "a responsibility before the game to calm it down". "Recently in Paris we had a guy [Paris St-Germain fan] killed at a game and that is not what we want in football," Wenger said. "It is not made for that. I would be happy if Chelsea v Arsenal was a fantastic football game. My responsibility is to make sure that it is. My relationship with him [Cole] is OK. He went to Chelsea under special circumstance that has been talked about a lot.

"But I also don't forget that he has done well for this club and you have to respect that. He went to Chelsea to continue his career in a decent way and go as high as he can, which I am sure he will do. He appreciates what he has done for the club and what the club has done for him. He wanted to leave but nothing will stop me from thinking he had done well for us. I was prepared for him to leave."

Ballack reacted with some relief that he has been named by Jose Mourinho as among the "untouchables" in the team. "Jose is a great trainer so if he says that then it must be true," Ballack said. A German reporter later confirmed that this was intended as a joke, although it was hard to tell at the time.

Perhaps more telling was Ballack's attitude towards his Germany team-mate Jens Lehmann who, it transpired, he has not seen much of since moving to England. Demonstrating he has already picked up a typical Londoner's attitude, Ballack said that he had not seen Lehmann because "he lives in north London whereas I live in the south - and it takes hours to get in". He added: "We're not really close friends, so we don't have much contact."

As for Cole, Ballack said he has been "relaxed" in training but there will be nothing relaxing about the way in which tomorrow's match unfolds. The title is one thing that will not be decided, but the answer to which side has a greater claim on the hearts of English football will be clearer. The bulldozers of Chelsea's star-studded midfield or the young prodigies of Wenger's side.

Ballack was dismissive of Arsenal's claim to play the better football, as demonstrated by his comparison to Leverkusen and their famous season of 2001-02 when, having knocked Liverpool and Manchester United out of the Champions' League, they lost to Real Madrid in the European Cup final. They finished second in the Bundesliga and runners-up in the German Cup.

It could have come from Mourinho's own mantra. "I don't necessarily agree with the thing about attractive football," Ballack said. "And I don't share the opinion that Arsenal are more attractive than Chelsea. It was the same at Leverkusen - you might play more attractively but you might take risks and lose and success is about winning."

It would seem Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos are the two centre-backs set to start for Wenger. If Andrei Shevchenko cannot make inroads against that pair, then it might be time for him to rethink his change of club. Mourinho has laid down a very clear challenge to his £31m man this week by excluding him from the "untouchables".

As for Henry, Ballack said with a shrug that Arsenal could "compensate for him in the short term but not in the long term". It seems unlikely that the injured Arsenal captain will make it down to the dugout for another public demonstration of solidarity - and for once he will have trouble stealing the limelight. That will belong to Chelsea's No 3, however much he might wish it otherwise.

Why the match is so flammable

* ASHLEY COLE v ARSENAL

In January 2005, Ashley Cole met Chelsea representatives to discuss the possibility of moving clubs. This was illegal because Cole was under contract at Arsenal and both he and Chelsea were subsequently fined. Cole signed a one-year extension at Arsenal but nevertheless acrimoniously left the club this summer. Within weeks he published a book containing scathing criticism of Arsenal and especially their vice-chairman, David Dein. He claimed the board had treated him as a 'scapegoat' and 'fed him to the sharks' over the tapping-up affair. Cole maintains that 'principles', and not money, were the reason he left Arsenal but admitted he nearly crashed his car when told he would be paid only £55,000 a week.

* WILLIAM GALLAS v CHELSEA

Cole's transfer was ultimately facilitated by William Gallas moving in the opposite direction. For some time Gallas had been hinting he was unhappy at being played at left-back but Chelsea claimed he was just seeking higher wages. Chelsea then issued a statement claiming Gallas had forced the move by threatening to deliberately score an own goal. Gallas, who is not playing tomorrow, rejected this and accused Chelsea of lacking class and "hiding behind false accusations".

ARSENE WENGER v JOSE MOURINHO

Jose Mourinho's characteristic outspokenness appeared to have gone too far in October 2005 when he said of the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger: 'I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur. He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families. He speaks, speaks, speaks about Chelsea.' Wenger threatened to sue Mourinho but ultimately settled for a grudging apology from the Chelsea manager.

By Bertie Rapkin

Great divides: Other football feuds that have reached boiling point

* GARY NEVILLE v LIVERPOOL FANS

After Neville revealed in a fanzine "I can't stand Liverpool and everything to do with them," United fans conjured the song "Gary Neville is a Red, he hates scousers". Jeers, threatening letters and an attempt to overturn his car while he was stuck in traffic have been the response of some Liverpool supporters. Last season Neville was fined £5,000 by the FA for running more than half the length of the Old Trafford pitch to celebrate a late Manchester United winner in front of the Liverpool fans.

* ROY KEANE v ALF INGE HAALAND

In November 1997 Roy Keane suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in attempting to trip Leeds' Alf Inge Haaland. Keane was out for a year. Haaland, who had stood over him accusing him of feigning injury, was later reported saying he found it "funny" that Keane injured himself. Four years later Keane caught up with Haaland, now at Manchester City, deliberately stamping on his knee. "I'd waited long enough. I f*****g hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c**t," Keane declared in his autobiography. Haaland retired due to injury in 2002. Although injury to his other knee was the cause, City sought to sue United - unsuccessfully - arguing that the injury was related.

FRANK LAMPARD v WEST HAM FANS

Even when he played for West Ham, Frank Lampard's relationship with their fans was ambivalent. Many had suggested his selection was nepotism as his namesake father was coach and the manager, Harry Redknapp, was his uncle. His 2001 move to Chelsea prompted a bitter reaction by Hammers fans fuelled by Lampard responding in kind. In his recent autobiography he described hearing cheers from Hammers fans when he broke his leg as an 18-year-old which "made me feel sick to the stomach". He added: "I wanted West Ham to lose. Now I don't even look for their results".

SOL CAMPBELL V TOTTENHAM FANS

The England central defender and club captain angered Spurs supporters in the summer of 2001 when he ran down his contract so that he could leave on a free transfer. Annoyance turned to fury when he announced his destination: Arsenal, Spurs' arch rivals. The fans have never let him forget it.

By Richard Clare

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent