By Chris Harris
Kolo Toure believes a step up in class at the Emirates Cup and Amsterdam Tournament will hold Arsenal in good stead when the new season gets underway.
Arsène Wenger's side eased through the gears in July with friendlies against Barnet, Szombathelyi, a Burgenland XI and VfB Stuttgart. Now August will see some acceleration with Juventus, Real Madrid, Ajax and Sevilla lying in wait over the next eight days.
Success in those fixtures would secure some confidence-boosting silverware at this weekend's Emirates Cup and next week's Amsterdam Tournament. Speaking in Austria Toure said he would welcome that but his main priority is for Arsenal to find top speed by the time the serious stuff starts with a Champions League qualifier at FC Twente.
"There are some big teams coming up for us and it is really good to prepare against big teams," said Toure. "That will show us the quality and the strength of our team. We will test ourselves against those big teams and see where we can go this season.
"[Our four opponents] have experience, they have a good level of football, and they play fantastic football as well. It is always good to play against that kind of opposition at this stage of pre-season because it makes you prepare really hard. Then when you face other teams it can be easier to play them."
Toure is not certain to play at this weekend's Emirates Cup - he only returned to pre-season training on Monday following a mild bout of malaria. If he does feature, the Ivorian will be going all-out for victory in front of a full house at Emirates Stadium.
"Winning [pre-season tournaments] does make a difference because it shows your strength and desire to win," said Toure. "In football there is no friendly game, for me every game is so important. You have to show something, get your confidence, especially at this stage of the season.
"The Emirates Cup is going to be really tight but it is a good tournament to prepare and see our first XI. It is really exciting because we are going to play some great clubs and we hope that the fans will take some happy memories from it."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 1 Aug 2008