Kanouté feels sharp spur of old rivalry

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The Independent Online

Seville and Arsenal were both last night talking up the importance of topping qualifying Group H of the Champions League, although Frédéric Kanouté admitted that the chance to revive his north London derby days was a major added motivation in tonight's match between the two clubs.

Kanouté said: "I am happy to have the chance to play against Arsenal. I remember the games that we played against them when I was a Tottenham player and they are always very heated affairs.

"I want to show tomorrow just how much I love facing them. I think we play a lot better against the better sides so there will be no shortage of motivation."

Wenger agreed that finishing top was paramount, even though he will rest William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor. The Arsenal manager even included Seville among around six sides capable of winning the Champions League.

"It's important we top the group," Wenger said. "We want to finish first. It's an advantage in the draw and it means you play the second game at home in the knockout stages. It's a tough competition and you need to arrive at the next stage in good shape.

"We know the team is on a good run and we want to keep that going. There are between six to 10 teams who can win the competition and when I say that I count Seville in that group."

The Seville coach, Manolo Jiminez, referred to Arsenal as the best side in Europe, but agreed his own team were capable of going all the way. "If we play as we can, we can go as far as possible," he said. "We are as good as any other team in this competition, but Arsenal are without doubt the most in-form team in Europe at the moment. They have been going in the same direction with the same philosophy for years and it is not a coincidence that is now bringing them success."

Jiminez is under pressure after he watched his side lose their seventh league match of the season at the weekend and Kanouté was full of praise for Seville's former coach Juande Ramos, who is now at the striker's old club. "I am sure that Juande is doing a fantastic job there because he is a great coach," Kanouté said. "I have not spoken to anyone about his progress because the playing staff has changed so much since my time there."

On the subject of a return to the Premier League, the Mali striker added: "At this moment I am only thinking about playing for Seville."

Seville (probable, 4-4-2): Palop; Alves, Drago, Fazio, Adriano; Navas, Poulsen, Keita, Renato; Kanoute, Fabiano.

Arsenal (probable, 4-4-2): Almunia; Sagna, Senderos, Touré, Traoré; Eboué, Cesc, Gilberto, Rosicky; Bendter, Da Silva.

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