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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 8, 2006

Boo-boys won't bother Ballack's buddy Cole

COBHAM, England, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Michael Ballack believes Chelsea team mate Ashley Cole will keep his cool in Sunday's derby against former club Arsenal at Stamford Bridge despite the expected barracking from visiting fans.

Cole, who was quoted in the British media on Friday as saying he expected flak from Arsenal's boo-boys, will face his old club for the first time since an acrimonious move on Aug 31.

Emotions will already be running high as the game could be a last chance for Arsenal to enter the title race and a key one for keeping Chelsea in touch with leaders Manchester United.

'He was very relaxed in training today,' Ballack said of the England left back. 'When you come up against your former team, it's difficult and sometimes the fans aren't very happy.

'But that's just the way things are and Ashley's an experienced player and I'm sure he'll show that on the pitch on Sunday... I'm sure Ashley will remain cool.'

Visiting fans could also be influenced by comments from Ballack's Germany team mate and Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann, who reportedly said Cole should get a hostile response on Sunday.

Ballack played down those views, saying that although they were not close friends: 'I'll be happy to see Jens again.

'He's a great keeper, he's number one in Germany and I'm looking forward to a duel with him on Sunday.'

For the champions, the bigger backdrop to Sunday's game is a title race which United could then lead by nine points.

Alex Ferguson's side are six points in front of second-placed Chelsea, having played a game more, and take on City in the Manchester derby on Saturday.

'We have to remain cool and not be distracted by that,' Ballack said. 'Hopefully, we'll catch up those points in the coming weeks.

'On Sunday, it's important to win, we can't really be satisfied with a draw. Arsenal are a very good team and there will be a battle in midfield. We're looking forward to it.'

On a personal level, Ballack is satisfied with his start to life in the Premier League following his arrival from Bayern Munich as a free agent during the close season.

With four goals scored and regular first-team starts, Ballack had the added bonus on Friday of reading in The Times that coach Jose Mourinho considered him 'untouchable'.

'I'm happy Jose says that,' he said. 'I think I've settled in well, I feel very good.

'As a player, with training and playing games, there's a lot of contacts,' Ballack added. 'I think it's slightly more difficult for the family.'

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