By Chris Harris
Kolo Toure knows Arsenal will have to be at their very best to beat Manchester United and secure their place in the Champions League Final.
The Ivory Coast star had a front-row view of United's attacking prowess as John O'Shea's early goal gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side a deserved first-leg advantage at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. Manuel Almunia's goalkeeping heroics kept Arsenal in the tie but they will probably need a clean sheet as well as goals of their own when the teams reconvene on Tuesday.
The omens are good for Arsenal - they have scored 13 goals without reply in their six Champions League home games this season - but United should offer a greater threat than the likes of Roma and Villarreal. Toure is well aware of that but he expects Arsenal to step up their game at Emirates Stadium.
"We have to win the second leg, and it is going to be really tight, but we know we can beat any team at Emirates," he said.
"United are a really strong team, they are used to playing in the Champions League as they won it last season and still have a lot of the same strong players. We will have to be on the top of our game to win against them but we can score two goals at Emirates, we just need to defend better.
"We have made some good clean sheets at home already, and beat Manchester there earlier in the season. That can give us some belief."
Arsenal were under the cosh in the first half at Old Trafford but they did match their opponents after the break. However, for all their patient probing they lacked penetration in the final third and could only muster half-chances for Emmanuel Adebayor and Nicklas Bendtner.
Toure admits that will have to change if Arsenal are to turn the Semi-Final tie on its head.
"We are not far away," he said. "We put Manchester under pressure, but just did not have the decisive pass to create the chance to make the goal.
"When you play against a team like Manchester United, with all the big players they have and the big money they have spent, it is always really tight. We know we are still learning a lot, so now we just need to play better and the second leg is going to be like a Final for us.
"We will give everything, that is for sure."Copyright 2017 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