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Sevilla FC's Frédéric Kanouté has any number of reasons to relish the challenge of Matchday 5 as in-form Arsenal FC visit southern Spain.
Not only did the striker play for two of Arsenal's London rivals, West Ham United FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC, he can also expect a battle of wits against a defender for whom he has the highest respect – Kolo Touré. Indeed, Kanouté and Touré will face another intense encounter when their countries, Mali and Ivory Coast, meet in the Africa Cup of Nations in January.
For now, though, Kanouté will settle for Sevilla showing a more competitive side to their football than in the 3-0 Matchday 1 reverse at Arsenal Stadium – or this weekend's 2-1 Primera División home defeat by RCD Mallorca. "I'm not the kind of man who dwells on the past, so my head is already clear of what happened in London," said the forward, responsible for two goals and two assists in UEFA Champions League Group H. "All I expect is that we give a much better reflection of ourselves in this match than we did against Mallorca."
Up to the task
A victory over the group leaders would guarantee second-placed Sevilla a knockout-stage berth, but a draw or a defeat could lead to a nervous final-day task at SK Slavia Praha. The Czech team travel to FC Steaua Bucureşti on Tuesday. "Games such as the one against Arsenal, a crucial UEFA Champions League match, are the kind of tests I revel in," said Kanouté. "More than that, I believe Sevilla have a good record of showing that the bigger the test, the better the performance we provide."
Respect for opposition
Regarding Touré, the task of outdoing a defender of growing renown inspires the 30-year-old. "I consider Kolo one of the best in the business, quick and full of quality," he said. "It's also a test in that his country and mine are pretty fierce rivals, but right now the African part of the contest can be overlooked. Our aim must be to subject Arsenal to the kind of pressure we have put on Real Madrid [CF] and Valencia [CF] this season. From my Tottenham days I know that playing Arsenal is hard work, but if we stop them using the ball the way they want, then we have the quality to get what we need from the match."
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