By Chris Harris

Of all the welcomes awaiting Patrick Vieira tonight, Kolo Toure's will be one of the warmest.

When the Ivorian arrived at Highbury a little over four years ago, Vieira took him under his wing. Toure has since blossomed into one of Europe's most consistent defenders and he appreciates the role his former captain played in that development.

"Patrick is a really good man," said Toure at the pre-match press conference. "When I came here, he used to take me like his little brother.

"He is from Senegal, and I am from the Ivory Coast, so that helped me a lot to improve the way I played. He was always talking to me and helped me to become what I am now.

"He is a great midfield player and I have seen a couple of the games he has played in Italy. We are going to be up against a really good Juventus team, and being up against Patrick will be good for us too."

Toure will greet Vieira like an old friend before tonight's first leg against Juventus, but he won't allow sentiment to spill over into the match. When the first whistle blows, Vieira will become just another obstacle to Arsenal's Champions League aspirations.

So many column inches have dissected Vieira's departure from Highbury last summer and the way Arsenal have coped - or otherwise - without their former skipper. Toure wants to show Vieira that Arsenal are flourishing without him.

"Patrick was a great player but now we have some good young players as well who are doing very, very well," he said. "Gilberto helps the young players and that has helped us to play good football.

"We have some good players. Philippe Senderos is doing very well, he is a great talent who improves with every game. Emmanuel Eboue and Mathieu Flamini are doing well.

"I think I am improving every time I play because I have got more experience these days when we play big, big games. We played well against Real Madrid and if we play like we can then we will do well against Juventus.

"We want to show Patrick that we are still a good, good team even though Patrick is not here. He was a great player for us but we have some new talent now and we want to show him that."

33/1 - Arsenal v Juventus: Thierry Henry to score first in a 2-0 victory

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Chris Harris 28 Mar 2006