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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Toure denies complacency to blame for Hull loss

Kolo Toure denies complacency was to blame for Arsenal's defeat by Hull City after claiming he was scared to face the Premier League newcomers.

The Gunners slipped to one of the great top-flight upsets when they were stunned 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium, a result which Arsene Wenger revealed made him feel physically sick.

Skipper William Gallas suggested Hull may have been underestimated but Toure rejects the explanation by declaring he viewed it as a tougher fixture than facing Manchester United.

Instead, Toure believes the expectation to put weaker teams to the sword can prove more difficult to match than beating their perennial title rivals.

''I was scared to play the game,'' said the Arsenal centre-back. ''Sometimes people, not the players, play the game before it's started and that's a problem because there are no small teams in the Premiership.

''Against Man United everybody thinks it's going to be a tight game but when you play against Hull it's harder because you are expected to win and score in the first minute.

''But it doesn't happen like that. I was scared against Hull because there are no easy games. We are professional players and when we go out we want to play well and win.''

Arsenal are hoping for an emphatic response to one of the most embarrassing defeats of Wenger's 12-year reign when they resume their Champions League campaign against Porto tomorrow night.

A competitive group which also includes Fenerbahce and Dynamo Kiev leaves little margin for error but Toure is grateful for the early chance for his team to redeem themselves by displaying their character.

''We can't just think about Hull. It's true we lost and didn't play well,'' he said. "But we didn't play very well against Fulham and then we came back well in the next game when we beat Twente in the Champions League (qualifiers).

''For a team like Arsenal it's always good to have a good reaction. Any team can fall down but it's about how they react to defeat that matters. Tomorrow is a really good test and we will see if we can show another face. We are lucky we can play a match so soon after that and change everything in the minds of our fans.

''We want to show everyone we are still a good side. The manager, like everyone at the club, was very upset after Hull. If you want to be champions you need to win every game, especially when you play at home. We didn't perform well.

''We're professional and we know that when we play for Arsenal we can't afford to lose like that. The manager didn't have to say anything to us but he still had a few words. Every player was very sad and disappointed. We need to show we have the character to win against a big team.''

Wenger's attacking philosophy has made Arsenal possibly the most attractive side to watch in Europe but Toure had demanded his side deliver more than entertainment.

''We really want to win something this season because we haven't won anything in the last three seasons,'' he said. "We are playing good football but we need to win to show that it can win us trophies.''

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