England full-back Ashley Cole talks to TheFA.com about Arsenal's chase for silverware this season
With Arsenal facing a Champions League winner-takes-all clash against Spartak Moscow next week, the temptation might be there to regard the Premiership trip to Leicester this Saturday as less important.Not for Ashley Cole however.
As the best young English player to emerge at Highbury during Arsene Wenger's reign at Highbury, he is a proud flag-bearer for our domestic game - whatever the thrills and spills the Champions League has to offer.
Of course, Cole is desperate to do well in Europe. But whereas the Pires, Vieira and Henry may dream about becoming kings of the Continent, Cole's number one ambition is to beat Manchester Untied and Chelsea to the championship.
"If you asked our players which trophy they would rather win, you would probably get mixed answers," he says.
"For me, I just want to win the league. Of course Man United won it last year so we want to take it back.
"But I think a lot of the players want the Champions league because that has all the best teams in it and you have to be the best club of all to win it."
Despite the glamour names in the Champions League, Cole knows there aren't many tougher opponents anywhere than their big two Premiership rivals.
"Even when Inter Milan came to Highbury and battered us 3-0, we felt we hadn't defended well and could play a lot better than that," he says.
"My attitude was that we play against Manchester United in the Premiership and I think they are better than Inter. So although nobody else thought we could go to Italy and get a result, we were always confident of winning and being able to qualify."
Cole's dramatic late winner against Dynamo Kyiv kept Arsenal in Europe, and the subsequent 5-1 mauling of Inter Milan means the Gunners are on course to reach the knockout stages despite failing to win any of their first three matches in the competition.
With the young left-back chasing trophies at home and abroad for Arsenal - and looking forward to Euro 2004 - he knows better than anyone how important it is to maintain the mantra 'one game at a time'.
"We learned our lesson at home to Inter," he reveals. "We had a great result beating Chelsea and went into the Inter match thinking we could do it at home to Inter. It was devastating when they beat us 3-0.
"Even when we have a Champions Leauge coming up, it is important to foucs on the next match first which is at Leicester."
It's been a strange season for England players like Cole with so much publicity on issues away from the field. Cole was also involved in the fracas at the end of the Manchester United-Arsenal game in September.
"I suppose it was all a little distracting, you try to ignore it but it is hard," he says. "It's all been dealt with now and I am glad to be just getting on with my football."
Over the horizon of course is Euro 2004.
The last England game ended in defeat at home to Denmark with Sven using a new central defensive pairing of John Terry and Matthew Upson.
The Danes won 3-2 but Cole is a great believer in using friendly matches to test players and ideas rather than become obsessive over the result.
"The main thing about the Denmark game was that we were able to blood youngsters. They got vital experience and that bodes well for the future," he says.
Cole knows what he is talking about when it comes to not taking friendly results too seriously.
He was part of the England squad caned in a 2-0 friendly defeat against Holland in 2001. In their very next match, England famously beat Germany 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Munich.
A similar scoreline for Arsenal against Spartak next week would suit Cole - but not at the expense of three points against Leicester.
Italics indicate loan spell