LOOKING BACK: NO.3

Posted on: Mon 18 Jun 2012

ASHLEY COLE
It was yet another impressive campaign by the Blues left-back whose consistency has now reached an almost incomparable level, and a season which not only saw him add the Champions League to an already impressive medal collection, but also claim a seventh FA Cup winners' medal.

The emergence of Ryan Bertrand saw Cole rested more often than usual amid a gruelling run of fixtures towards the end of the season, but when called upon, when it really mattered, he was as reliable as ever.

Like the side as a whole, his early season form fluctuated, and after a sending off at Swansea in late January, a low point of his campaign was being named only as a substitute for the Champions League away game in Napoli.

The elevation of Roberto Di Matteo coincided with a return to his best for Cole, and as the Blues chased glory in both the FA Cup and Champions League, while also attempting to secure a top-four finish, he was absolutely outstanding.

After making a goal-line clearance against Barcelona at the Bridge early in the game, Cole went on to turn in an awesome display, while in the return leg, with the Blues depleted defensively after losing both John Terry and Gary Cahill, he was even better.

Craig Bellamy, who Cole was tasked with marking in the FA Cup Final, barely had a kick before being substituted in the second half as the defender extended his existing record with an unbelievable seventh triumph in the competition, but the best was yet to come.

Having been a beaten finalist twice - with both Arsenal and Chelsea - a Champions League winners' medal had been the one which continued to elude the 31-year-old.

The wait was finally over, though, on that unforgettable night in Munich, and with our backs to the wall for long spells in the game, Cole was so impressive once again, keeping the threat of Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller at bay, while also guiding Bertrand, who was playing in an unfamiliar role further forward, through the game.

Much like the Moscow Final in 2008, Cole scored a penalty in the shoot-out, but on this occasion it led to him collecting that highly-coveted medal.

Appearances: 46+2
Assists: 11
Minutes on pitch: 4,481