By Richard Clarke

Manuel Almunia could not have chosen a tougher place to make his debut as Arsenal captain.

The 31-year-old took the armband at the weekend when Kolo Toure went off at half-time against Everton. In the absence of the injured William Gallas, the Spaniard will keep it tonight for Arsenal’s Champions League tie at Fenerbahce.

When he spoke about the honour at Arsenal’s pre-match press conference in Istanbul, Almunia was visibly pleased however he refused to accept that the venue added extra pressure.

“I am very proud to wear the armband,” he said. “It is an honour. I am a bit surprised because although I am the oldest player on the pitch, I have not been at the Club the longest.

“But it is nice because it means I have done well and I have the confidence of the manager.

“I will try to defend Arsenal 100 per cent and try to help my team in every aspect of the game.

“We expect a team like Fenerbahce to put some pressure on us in the first 15 minutes with all the crowd behind them but we have the experience to remain calm and defend well. It will be crucial to keep a clean sheet for the first 15 minutes.

“It is true I have a bit more responsibility but no pressure. But the only pressure on me is the same one I get every Saturday.

“I am very proud to wear the armband. I hope I can command my defence from behind and help my team get the points.”

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21 Oct 2008