Kolo Touré has risked the wrath of the Arsenal fans by suggesting that their hostile reception for Samir Nasri in Tuesday's Carling cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester City was a reflection of their "love" for the player.
Touré, another former Arsenal player who left for City in 2009, was afforded a much better reception on his return to the Emirates. But Nasri, for whom it was the first game back at his former club since an acrimonious move in the summer, was barracked throughout the tie which was won by a late goal from Sergio Aguero.
Touré said: "Fans do that when they love you. They saw him playing for the other side and they weren't really happy but they love him and they know he was a great player for Arsenal. He is very intelligent and he knew that it would happen. That's why he never had any bad reaction, which I give him credit for."
Coming back to Arsenal was, Touré said, like "coming back to your family". He said that he and Patrick Vieira, now an ambassador for City, had spoken to Arsène Wenger before the game. Touré added: "Arsenal is the team where I started and coming back here is always great for me. I am still close to the boss and we talk quite regularly."
It was only the seventh game for Touré since his return from a ban for a failed drugs test. He said that if City – unbeaten in domestic competition this season – were to replicate the famous Arsenal "Invincibles" team of 2003-04 that went the whole league season without defeat they would have to "forget about" the record.
"We just want to play as well as we can every game," he said. "When you start thinking about it, you play without control. We just need to relax, go out, do our best and win. At Arsenal, we never thought about it."