By Claire Nash
Having been the star player in Arsenal FC's tremendous start to the Premiership season, striker José Antonio Reyes is convinced the Londoners can transfer their sensational form into Europe with their opening UEFA Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven at Highbury on Tuesday.
Six in six
The 21-year-old has played six games for Arsenal so far this season - including the Community Shield - and scored in every one of them, and now he is determined that Arsène Wenger's side should start to act the part of superstars in the Champions League.
"It has been the trophy that has got away when the club have fallen short but, despite this, I think Arsenal are more galactic than Real Madrid [CF]," the former Sevilla FC marksman told uefa.com. "
The pressure is on Arsenal to go further than they have done before but there is no room for nerves in football."
Madrid may have been a pale shadow of their former selves in the Primera División last season, but Reyes still expects them to be a major force in this season's competition. "Madrid will be a threat," he said. "They are always the favourites in whichever competition they're in."
However, having won the English title without losing a game last season, and remain unbeaten in the Premiership in 45 games, Arsenal should cast a similarly long shadow this season, even though they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Chelsea FC last term.
Reyes for one is keen that his side should make no concessions to their opponents in the Champions League. "The most important thing is how a team play," he said. "Arsenal will play the same in Europe as we play in the Premiership. We will not change our style."
None the less, while Reyes is happy for his team to dictate terms to their opponents in Europe, he is still wary of group-stage opponents PSV, Panathinaikos FC and Rosenborg BK, mindful perhaps of Arsenal's tendency to underperform against less illustrious opposition in Europe.
"We won't take the threat of our opponents lightly," he vowed. "Our opening opponents, PSV Eindhoven, are a great team, we recognise that. But I can't see them troubling us if we play as we can."
And the way Arsenal are playing, they look unlikely not to score. Reyes and Thierry Henry lead the goalscoring charts with five goals apiece after the first five Premiership matches of the campaign. "It has been a great start to the season for me and I have been very flattered by the compliments coming my way," he said. "It's still too early for me to be mentioned in the same breath as Thierry, Ruud van Nistelrooij and Alan Shearer, but I am confident I can stay among the top scorers.
"Why not?" he said. "With the team we have, I can make goals and I can also score them, so I have a good chance. My form and Thierry Henry's goals are merely an indicator of how well Arsenal are playing. Many other players such as Dennis [Bergkamp] and Robert [Pires] are getting on the scoresheet as well."
Now the aim is to take that goalscoring form into Europe. "All of us will be put to the test in the Champions League," concluded Reyes. "But it is a challenge I'm sure we will rise to."
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