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By ESPN Staff
Jul 15, 2006

Wenger wants unhappy Cole to stay with Arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he wants England full-back Ashley Cole to stay at the club.

Cole today reportedly claimed the Gunners used him as a scapegoat over the 'tapping-up' affair with Premiership champions Chelsea.

And while it looks like the 25-year-old, due to be married today to Girls Aloud singer Cheryl Tweedy, is set to leave Arenal, Wenger appears to be standing firm.

He told Sky Sports: 'He has two years on his contract and unless we sell he has a future. I want him to stay but you need him to stay.

'Nothing is decided yet and for me he is just an Arsenal player like everyone else. Football players are there to play football.'

This morning`s Sun newspaper claimed Cole had criticised Arsenal while promoting his new book.

'Arsenal hung me out to dry, using me as a scapegoat to get back at Chelsea,' said Cole in quotes the newspaper claims is being used to promote the book.

'The board `rewarded' me with an insult and threw years of loyalty back in my face.

'I'll reveal the shattering truth about who fed me to the sharks. It changed my view forever on the club I regarded as family.'

Wenger, however, believes Arsenal have helped Cole`s career, insisting: 'When we look at Ashley Cole we can say Arsenal have helped him a lot. He is intelligent enough to make a difference.'

The Arsenal manager was speaking after his side opened their pre-season campaign with a 0-0 draw at Barnet.

Alexander Hleb, Mathieu Flamini, Manuel Almunia and Pascal Cygan all started the match at Underhill but Wenger admitted he was struggling to get his side ready for the new campaign less than a week after the World Cup finished.

'It is a nightmare [preparing for a new season] after the World Cup,' said Wenger.

'We had many players out there [in Germany] and needed to give them some rest, especially as the World Cup pushed back.'

Jeremie Aliadiere and Justin Hoyte - who spent last season away from Highbury on loan - were also given their chance alongside new signing Joe O'Cearuill.

After loans spells at Celtic, West Ham and Wolves, Aliadiere looked lively for the Gunners and tested Barnet goalkeeper Lee Harrison as early as the second minute.

The Frenchman should have scored on the hour mark when he was played in by Alexandre Song.

Substitute keeper Ross Flitney blocked Aliadiere's first attempt but only pushed the ball back to the Gunners striker who could only direct his second shot wide.

Barnet had a goal disallowed in the 67th minute when Ismail Yakubu's header was ruled out for offside before a strike from Arsenal forward Arturo Lupoli was disallowed for the same reason.