Semi-final reaction

Toure: Gunners must do better

April 30, 2009

Kolo Toure accepts Arsenal will have to raise their game to another level if the Gunners are to beat Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium next week and book a place in the Champions League final.

Without cup-tied Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin, manager Arsene Wenger once again opted for a five-man midfield as captain Cesc Fabregas was pushed forward behind lone striker Emmanuel Adebayor at Old Trafford in last night's semi-final, first leg, which finished 1-0 to the hosts.

However, despite a few spells of possession, the Gunners failed to fire and had only a 20-yard strike from Fabregas in the first half to trouble Edwin van der Sar.

Indeed, but for a heroic performance by goalkeeper Manuel Almunia - who made fine stops from Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo - the defeat could have been much worse.

The woodwork saved Arsenal in the second half when Ronaldo's 25-yard effort crashed against the crossbar, while substitute Ryan Giggs saw his effort chalked off for offside.

Toure, though, feels the Gunners can raise themselves for the second leg next Tuesday night in north London, where United were beaten in the Premier League earlier this season.

"Now 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," the Ivory Coast defender said.

"The good thing from the game is that, after United took the early lead, we did not give up and still played our football."

Toure declared: "We will have to be on the top of our game to win against them, and we are not far away.

"We put Manchester under pressure but just did not have the decisive pass to create the chance to make the goal.

"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.

"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."

Wenger will try to inject a few fresh legs into his side for Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Portsmouth, where the Gunners will aim to close the gap on third-placed Chelsea.

Arshavin is expected to start while Croatia striker Eduardo, who came on as a substitute last night, could also be in the XI.

Both leading scorer Robin van Persie (groin) and regular left-back Gael Clichy (back) may well be in contention to boost Arsenal's options for the second leg against United.