According to defender Kolo Touré, Arsenal FC are enjoying the benefits of collective responsibility since the departure of Thierry Henry to join FC Barcelona.
Arsenal FC's chances of securing European silverware appeared to suffer a hammer blow in the summer when club captain Thierry Henry announced his departure for FC Barcelona. So far, however, Arsène Wenger's men have coped admirably without the greatest scorer in the club's history; they lead the Premier League after five matches and head into Wednesday's UEFA Champions League match against Sevilla FC full of confidence.
France defender William Gallas is the new captain, with Kolo Touré and Gilberto acting as deputies. But according to Touré, who wears the armband against Sevilla due to Gallas's groin injury, Henry's departure has forced every player to make greater contributions. "Everyone's taking more responsibility," said the Ivory Coast centre-back. "We have a lot of important players now and that's vital. If you want to be a big club you need 15-20 top players. This season every player is a leader in his position."
Wenger's decision to make Gallas skipper surprised many given Gilberto's impressive leadership while Henry was injured last term. But Touré played down the importance of the captain's identity, saying: "When William is here, we listen to him. When he isn't, I try to lead the team. But we have so many mentally strong players it doesn't make a difference. At the moment we're winning games, everything is going well, so it doesn't matter who the captain is."
The biggest fear among Arsenal fans was that the Gunners would struggle to score without their French talisman, yet the goals have been flowing during the opening weeks of the campaign. "The difference is that the goals come from everywhere now," enthused Touré, who struck five times last term but has not yet opened his account this season. "Cesc [Fabregas] hardly scored last season, now he scores in every game. All the players are improving: Aleksandr Hleb, Tomáš Rosický, Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor are all scoring."
Touré is confident Arsenal will transfer their scoring form to the European stage, but knows they will not have it all their own way against the two-time UEFA Cup winners. "It's the ideal time to start our Champions League campaign because we're top of the league and playing well," said the 26-year-old. "Now we have another challenge against Sevilla, a very good side who pass well and score goals. It's a good test for us," added the defender, who singled out the former Tottenham Hotspur FC striker Frédéric Kanouté as Sevilla's principal threat. "Kanouté will be motivated against Arsenal and he's a great player. I have lots of respect for him and I'll need to be very careful."