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AZ Alkmaar defender Kew Jaliens believes his team's attacking style makes them the "Dutch Arsenal" and he promises to give the English Gunners a scare when Arsène Wenger's side visit on Tuesday.
With only a point in the bag two games into their UEFA Champions League debut, the Eredivisie titleholders have a lot riding on their home game against Arsenal FC, who have six Group H points, but the 31-year-old Jaliens says his side have nothing to be afraid of. "You have to give it 100 per cent and see where it takes you," he said. "You always have to go into a game with a positive attitude."
A 1-0 loss at Olympiacos FC and a 1-1 draw at home to R. Standard de Liège have not, Jaliens maintained, taken the wind out of the group-stage debutants sails. "Everything is still possible in our section," said Jaliens, who played in the 1999/00 group stage with Willem II. "I am feeling optimistic. We didn't feel we were the weaker side in the two previous games and we need to prove that in the remaining fixtures. In terms of points it is still completely open."
Ronald Koeman's side are recovering their composure in the Eredivisie as they come to terms with the departure of coach Louis van Gaal to FC Bayern München. Jaliens said: "We are a footballing team of the Dutch school; we have good positional play, create chances, play an attacking kind of football. In a way we are the Dutch Arsenal. We play football well and like to get as close to the goal as possible to cash in on the opportunities we create."
Jaliens himself is inspired by one of his darkest hours, the added-time Sporting Clube de Portugal goal in Lisbon that denied AZ in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup semi-finals. "Recalling that helps me give my all for the entire duration of a match, to ensure that never happens again," he said. However for all of his experience – positive and negative – Jaliens has not forgotten that it is a privilege to play at the top level. "I am 31 now, and still being able to play in the Champions League is great," he said. "I've had a good career already, but all of this makes it even better."
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