By Richard Clarke
Arsenal will be relying on Kolo Toure on Tuesday. Fortunately the Ivorian centre back is strong in both mind and body, according to Arsène Wenger.
Having lost 1-0 in the Champions League Semi-Final first leg at Old Trafford last week, the Frenchman knows his team can ill-afford to concede at Emirates Stadium in the return game.
It is a tough ask for an injury-hit defence. William Gallas (knee) and Gael Clichy (back) are certainly out while Mikael Silvestre has still not fully recovered from his groin injury. Even Bacary Sagna (sickness) and Kieran Gibbs (groin) have been sidelined in recent weeks.
It leaves a lot resting on the broad shoulders of Toure. But, given the season he has had, Wenger believes he will handle it well.
"He went through a difficult period because he didn't always play,” said Wenger. “That shows that all players have to face competition from within the squad and they have to handle that well.
“But Kolo is a fair player. He has given a lot to this club already. The decisions you make as a manager, when you don't select a player, doesn't mean he isn't good even though sometimes they feel like that.
"As for this game, I feel Kolo has the experience in the Champions League. He has already played in the Final. He is one of the most experienced players at the back and so he will have a vital role to play.”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 4 May 2009