By Richard Clarke
Arsène Wenger believes that Kolo Toure owes much of his rapid development to the man he will face on Saturday.
Sol Campbell partnered the Ivorian at the heart of the Arsenal defence for four seasons before leaving for Portsmouth during the summer. Toure has taken to the role of senior centre back with alacrity however his manager knows he had help on the way.
"Kolo loved to play with Sol," said Wenger at Friday's press conference. "I think Kolo will be grateful to Sol his whole life because he started to play with Sol as an inexperienced player.
"I can remember the first time I played them together, it was in Austria. I think if Kolo has made a career it is a lot down to Sol.
"But that's what Sol was all about as well. He is like Gilberto a little bit - a quiet kind of leader."
Wenger expected the former Tottenham defender to go abroad after leaving Arsenal and he revealed he has not rung him since his departure - but only because the 32-year-old is doing so well at Portsmouth.
"I felt at the time that deep within himself he wanted to go to a foreign country but he went to Portsmouth," said Wenger "I don't know why, he can only explain that. But I'm not surprised he is playing well now.
"I have not spoken to him no, but it's always a pleasure. When it goes well for a player I don't call them. [For example] I had Robert Pires on the phone last week because he is injured and cannot play. But when they can play they don't need to call."
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 15 Dec 2006