'Fabregas? He is Arsenal's best player, no question' - Villa

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The Independent Football

David Villa knows Arsenal will try to play Barcelona at their own game on Wednesday night, and that with his Spain international team-mate Cesc Fabregas on the pitch they will be better equipped to do so.

Fabregas missed the second leg last season at the Nou Camp and was a passenger in the closing stages of the first leg after heroically scoring from the spot with a cracked fibula that ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Villa says: "It was a big blow for them last year to have to come here without him. He is a fantastic player – one of the best in his position in the world. They have a lot of very good players who can hurt you but Cesc is their best without any question."

The Barcelona striker says there were relaxed smiles in the dressing room when the draw was made. "Both teams play styles of football that people want to see," says Villa. "They look for the ball, they want to be in possession just as we do and with both sides wanting to dominate then it will be a fantastic game.

"You never know what fixture will be the most difficult game at this stage but it suits us to play a side that will come out and look for the ball and not just sit in their own half and wait for us to take the initiative."

Some Barcelona players believe Arsenal showed too much respect in last year's tie and that they will not make the same mistake this time. But Villa believes the benefits of having faced the opposition recently will be felt as much by Barça as the Gunners.

He says: "It works both ways. When it comes to preparing for the game we have the reference of last year's two games as well, and they have not changed a great deal. The key with these games between two sides with very similar styles is who has control of the ball the most." Barcelona's fear is that with Fabregas on the pitch, dominating possession might not be as easy as it was 12 months ago.