By Chris Harris

Cesc Fabregas was as surprised as anyone to hear that Robin van Persie was back in the Arsenal squad. Now he is looking forward to teaming up with the "perfect striker" once again.

The duo have not shared a pitch since the first leg of their Champions League tie with Barcelona a little under three weeks ago. On that occasion Van Persie scored a scorching equaliser while Fabregas produced the defence-splitting pass that eventually led to Andrey Arshavin's winner.

Not long after, Van Persie was sidelined by a hamstring problem. By the time he returned for the Carling Cup Final, Fabregas had a more serious version of the same injury. Van Persie hurt his knee while scoring at Wembley but, after being ruled out for "a minimum of three weeks" by Arsène Wenger, has recovered sufficiently to join Fabregas on the comeback trail ahead of the return fixture with Barcelona.

The captain was stunned to hear that his Dutch team-mate was in contention to play at the Nou Camp and he believes Van Persie can make the difference on Tuesday night.

"Robin is a very important player for us, he is the perfect striker, he can do everything and understands the game very, very well," said Fabregas.

"For a midfielder to have a player like him, it is fantastic because he gives you all the options that you need.

"I was very surprised [to hear he was in the squad] because this [Monday] morning we did not know anything about it. He woke up feeling great and said he wanted to try and practice. No-one wanted to cheat on anyone, it has been a surprise on the whole team.

"He was bandaging his ankle for training and said 'I am doing great and I want to try. Let's see how I feel tomorrow'. If he is fit to play, it would be very good."

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7 Mar 2011