• Premier League

Liverpool are title contenders - Toure

ESPN staff
October 30, 2013
Reds for real?

Kolo Toure believes Liverpool are genuine title contenders and he is determined to prove himself to former club Arsenal when the Reds face the Premier League leaders on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers' side visit the Emirates Stadium knowing that, if other results go their way, a win will see them replace the Gunners at the top of the Premier League.

And that would be hugely satisfying for Toure, who made 326 appearances in seven years for Arsenal.

The Ivory Coast international was part of the Invincibles side who went through the 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten as they won the title.

And the centre-back, who also won a championship medal with Manchester City in 2012, feels Liverpool are in the running this season for a first league title since 1990.

He told the Liverpool Echo: "Of course we are [contenders] because we have so many great players. The way we are playing shows that. This is a fantastic club.

"We want to win trophies and we want to win the title definitely. Arsenal are contenders too, as there are some fantastic people there."

Toure acknowledges a debt to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who brought the defender to England from Ivory Coast club ASEC Mimosas for £150,000 in 2002.

But Wenger decided to sell the 32-year-old to Manchester City for 16 million pounds in the summer of 2009.

At the time, Toure said that he felt he had been forced out as a result of a rift with centre-back partner William Gallas - with the two men having barely spoken to each other for a year.

Toure, who moved to Anfield on a free transfer in July after his Manchester City contract expired, said: "Without Arsene, I wouldn't be here. He was the one who saw me. He's a fantastic manager and gave me my chance to play football in this country.

"But now is not the time to talk about him. He knows I've been talking about him all the time. It's always special to go back there - but at the same time, I want to show on Saturday that Arsenal made a mistake by letting me go.

"I'm going there to fight. I want to show them what I can do and help my team - Liverpool - to win. Right now I don't want to think about any of the good things that Arsene did for me as I'm focused on getting those three points."

Toure has been a consistent presence in an evolving Liverpool defence this season, with manager Brendan Rodgers switching from a flat back four to a three-man central defensive unit in late September.

The defender is expecting a tough time against an Arsenal side brimming with attacking options such as Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere.

"Of course it will be difficult but we are a strong team and we have a great manager as well," he added. "They know that we pose a threat to them too and they know it will be a tough game for them."

Liverpool's own attacking threat is set to consist of Daniel Sturridge, who is the Premier League's leading scorer with eight goals, and Luis Suarez, who Arsenal tried to sign in the summer.

Suarez has been welcomed back into the fold after a troubled few months, during which he incurred a 10-match domestic ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and made clear that he wanted to leave Anfield.

Since his return from the ban, the 26-year-old Uruguay international has scored six goals in five games for Liverpool, including a hat-trick in last Saturday's 4-1 Premier League win over West Brom.

"I haven't seen many better hat-tricks than Luis' against West Brom," Toure said. "All three were great goals. Both Luis and Daniel are amazing players and there is a great understanding between them.

"I wouldn't fancy having to mark either of them. When you have players like that in the squad and you train with them every day, it makes you even better."

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