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afc Toure has faith in bright future at the Emirates

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Arsenal's players have long since finished training but there is still no sign of Kolo Toure in the media area. Even the notoriously tardy manager, Arsene Wenger, has completed his round of TV, radio and newspaper interviews when the penny drops. It being Friday, Toure has nipped out to the local mosque; prayers before press.For a man of Toure's deeply religious convictions, faith is an essential part of everything he does, not just when he is on his knees facing Mecca. He has faith in his Arsenal team-mates, faith in Wenger, faith even that the current takeover distraction engulfing the club will make them stronger.After an encouraging start to the season at the Emirates Stadium, he also has faith in his team's ability to make it a fortress against the infidels who question Arsenal's commitment and ability to challenge for honours.Arsenal have been accused of lacking the moral fibre to cope in the Premier League's more inhospitable northern outposts, unable to hack the hacking, so to speak, in places like Bolton and Blackburn. In truth, any hopes of making a title challenge last season disappeared in the first five games on the plush new grass of their sumptuous new stadium, three of which ended in draws. And ironically, last season, they posted a 2-0 league win at Blackburn and a 3-1 FA Cup triumph at Bolton.Now Toure hopes that three wins out of three at the Emirates, following two in the pre-season tournament there, has added metaphorical turrets and a moat to the architectural design. He says: "It was a big mental thing for us, playing at the new stadium and we have had to learn to play there. At Highbury, with three or four passes, you could get from one goal to the other but at the Emirates, on a bigger pitch, we have learned that you have to be more collected, more patient and more clever. You cannot always look for the killer pass, you have to draw teams out."For a man who describes himself as "coming a long way back in Africa", Highbury was a pretty forbidden foreign clime when he arrived as a 20-year-old in a wet and windy February of 2002. Initially, it was only for a two-week trial but Wenger was so amused by a player with the nerve to kick Tony Adams and Martin Keown in training that he paid £150,000 for him to the Ivory Coast's ASEC Abidjan, if only for the fun he would give the other players. Sadly he was injured almost as soon as he had put down the pen after signing and was ruled out for six months.He says: "Everyone was asking, 'How can the boss sign a player like that? He comes from Africa, we don't even know where he played before and now he is injured after two weeks.' But all the players and everyone else at the club gave me fantastic support. They knew I had a good spirit, knew I wanted to make it and they took me in, like a child, like a brother. When that happens, you think - 'this is my home' and when I got better, Mr Wenger gave me my chance and I took it. You can't say anything bad about a man like that."Similarly, you would have to move to the cockerel side of north London to find anyone with a bad word to say about Toure, who is now the longest- serving member of Arsenal's young team, having arrived shortly before Brazilian Gilberto.Two shock exits from Arsenal in the past few months, vice-chairman David Dein followed by captain Thierry Henry, might have upset the dressing room as they fuelled rumours that Wenger would soon follow suit and see the club's era of success turn into irreversible decline. Dein, of course, has now sold his shares to a Russian oligarch amid feverish speculation that he will return as Arsenal's chairman.Toure says: "Mr Dein was a fantastic man and when you are used to seeing people, you always miss them. But that is life and you just focus on playing. Losing Titi [Henry] was a shock because you always think that it is difficult for the captain to leave. But we have good players coming in like Adebayor, Van Persie and Eduardo. People say that Titi did too much but I think that is normal when you are his type of player. That was his character, he wanted to be the best and always gave 100 per cent, even in training." Did Toure and his team-mates discuss the possibility of Wenger making it a trilogy of walk-outs and how they would react if he did?"No", says Toure, "In football, you never know what you will do until something happens. When it happens, you think then, but now, everything is fine, the boss is here and we're winning games." Having won the Premier League or the FA Cup in each of his first three seasons, Toure has found the past two years painfully frustrating."It's hard for me," he said, "because I am a winner. Even back in Africa I was used to winning trophies every season. I have that spirit in my blood. But now the young players and the old players at Arsenal, we all work well together and you can see the big solidarity between us." Defeat to Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final is still a festering sore. Toure points to the sending-off of goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, the injury to Robert Pires, the disallowed Barca equaliser."We were very unlucky but what can we do? It would be a dream, of course, to play against Barca and Titi in the final this season. The spirit and belief is there in this team that we can do it." There's that word belief again.And if a little faith goes a long way, Toure's could surely take him to infinity and back.

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Nice.I like Kolo, Arsenal through and through. One player who will not be leaving.Captain material, makes them bursting runs through the middle.

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Guest Its Me Bitches

oh toures muslimshoulda told me soonerworld class player best defender in the league

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