Monday 21 January 2019

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole (pictured) admits he never expected to come up against his old Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard again as the pair prepare to cross swords when Roma take on Manchester City tonight.

Cole left Chelsea for Roma in the summer and says he is loving life in Italy's capital city, while Lampard arrived at Manchester City on loan, having originally left the Stamford Bridge side for MLS newcomers New York City FC.

The 33-year-old has started four games out of Roma's five consecutive victories in Serie A, including Saturday's 2-0 win over Verona. Lampard, too, has being enjoying an Indian summer with four goals in the last week.

Cole said: "It will be great to play against people like Joe Hart and Lamps - I never expected to play against him. If I am selected and Lamps is selected it would be nice.

"Everyone knows what Lampard brings to any team - he's a great experienced player who scores goals. He even scored against Chelsea - they probably didn't like that and probably a little bit disappointing for him to score as well.

"But he's a professional and he has to do a job and that is scoring goals.

"I don't think Chelsea were wrong (to let us go) - a decision was made, I'm fine with it. I had eight great years there and I am really enjoying a new challenge."

Cole admitted there are big differences in Italian football but said that he is relishing the challenge.

He added: "I'm loving Italy - of course it's different to the Premier League, most of the players have very good technique and the Prem is fast and furious at times.

"But we play fast, we like to attack, don't sit back to defend, we have a good mentality and a good manager who is always on at us to go forward and play.

"I'm getting used to it now and really enjoying playing Italian football. Of course I loved the Prem but this is something different for me now."

Cole admitted that City would be the favourites. However, if Roma win, it would leave Manuel Pellegrini's men in a difficult place, and that the pressure was all on the home side.

He said: "If we win it will make it more difficult for them to catch up and will probably make us top of the group and put us in good stead for qualifying, but it's going to be a tough game and we don't want to look too far ahead."

Roma coach Rudi Garcia said the Italian side - runners up in Serie A last season - had the chance to make a real statement about their quality. "We have the champions of Germany and the champions of England in the group so we are outsiders but we are proud to be able to show our qualities," he said.

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