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Di Matteo wants Cole to commit to Chelsea

September 23, 2012
LONDON: Roberto di Matteo urged Ashley Cole to sign a new Chelsea contract after the England full-back scored the only goal as the Premier League leaders beat Stoke 1-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Cole’s goal five minutes from time helped European champions Chelsea go three points clear at the top of the table, as Stoke suffered their first defeat of the season.

The 31-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of the season, with Paris Saint Germain reportedly interested in signing him during the January transfer window.

But after seeing Cole score only his seventh goal for Chelsea since his arrival from London rivals Arsenal in 2006, Blues manager di Matteo believes it is vital he remains at the club for the long-term.

“That’s between Ashley and the club but my recommendation is to make him stay here as long as he can,” said the Italian manager.

“I’m not sure what’s happening — Ashley doesn’t exactly tell me what his contract situation is. But I’m sure they will find a solution because both parties are happy to talk.”

It had been more than two years since Cole last found the net in an 8-0 win over Wigan but this time his contribution was decisive.

Stoke had frustrated Chelsea for large portions of the match and nearly broke the deadlock in the first half when a Jon Walters header cannoned off the top of the crossbar.

Despite starting with attacking trio Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar behind lone striker Fernando Torres for the first time together, Chelsea looked as though they may have to settle for a second successive goalless draw.

But Cole’s smart finish in the 85th minute after the ball fell to him unmarked six yards out ensured the Blues secured their fourth win of the season.

“I thought it was just a question of time until we scored,” said former Chelsea and Italy midfielder di Matteo.

“Time was running out in the end, but it is always hard to break Stoke down because they are so well-organised.

“Every team that comes to Stamford Bridge defends very deep and we have to be patient to break them down.”

Stoke had started the season with four successive draws and came very close to setting a new Premier League record of five.

Potters manager Tony Pulis was disappointed not to take something from the game but insisted he had been delighted with the visitors’ performance.

“We just haven’t had the breaks so far,” he said. “This was probably the best we’ve played at Chelsea in the five years we’ve been in the Premiership.

“But in general I’m really pleased with the performance and I think the lads did smashing.”

Former England striker Michael Owen was introduced from the bench in the 64th minute and looked lively on only his second appearance in a Stoke shirt.

And Pulis believes the 32-year-old could play a major role when he is back to full fitness.

“I’ll give him plenty of time over the next month hopefully to get his fitness and not be stupid with it,” Pulis explained.

“He’s been a breath of fresh air since coming into the football club and his attitude has been fantastic. I think he’s got a point to prove.”

Di Matteo left out captain John Terry and Frank Lampard ahead of next weekend’s meeting with Arsenal, a decision he justified by saying: “The guys have played a lot of games and already and we have got so many games to come.

“Using the squad is very important for us because we don’t want to get to November and be burnt out.”



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