By Chris Harris
Jose Antonio Reyes believes Arsenal are a force to be reckoned with this season.
The Spanish international is back in North London for this weekend's Emirates Cup in the colours of Atletico Madrid. Reyes left Arsenal in the summer of 2007 but he has never played at Emirates Stadium - he joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan shortly after the ground opened three years ago.
Reyes should fill that hole in his CV when Atletico face Arsenal on Saturday afternoon and the 25-year-old is relishing the challenge. Some say Arsenal will be off the pace this season but, as far as Reyes is concerned, Arsène Wenger's team is on the up.
"I don't think they are weaker," he said.
"Arsenal are one of the strongest teams in the Champions League. We have to admit they lost a couple of important players but they have an extraordinary young team and they are going to develop.
"They have a great team here in England and are one of the strongest teams in Europe. In fact I think Arsenal are getting stronger. Players like Cesc Fabregas are doing incredibly well. Ever since he made his debut with Arsenal you could see that he had a lot of quality."
It's tempting to view Reyes' Arsenal career as a case of what might have been. He arrived to a wave of expectancy in January 2004 and supplemented the 'Invincibles' side which won the title and went 49 League games without defeat. But despite clocking up 110 appearances, Reyes never settled.
His career has dipped since then - Reyes was shipped out on loan to Benfica last season - but the Spaniard has no regrets over his decision to leave Arsenal.
"Any player would like to play for Arsenal, any player," said Reyes. "But I don't have any regrets. I took my decision because obviously I thought it would be better for my career. I had a good time here and won some trophies with the team. I think they deserve all the praise they get.
"Of course I am happy, I've said it before and I am very hopeful to play this season with my team. My success will depend on how much effort I put in."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 31 Jul 2009