LONDON COLNEY, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 11: Alexander Hleb jokes around with Cesc Fabregas during the Arsenal UEFA Champions League Media Day at the Arsenal Training Complex on May 11. 2006 in London Colney, England. Arsenal will take on Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France in Paris next week. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb jokingly said he would “punch” Cesc Fabregas ahead of BATE Borisov’s Europa League clash with Chelsea

The midfield duo played alongside each other at Arsenal between 2005 and 2008 before Hleb left for Barcelona.

While Fabregas himself did eventually rejoin Barcelona from Arsenal three years later, he never did play with Hleb at the Camp Nou after the Belarusian went out on three loan spells before finally leaving in 2012.

Hleb, who is now in his fourth stint with BATE, is eyeing up tonight’s game at Stamford Bridge with a keen interest as he prepares to face his old friend.

“It will be nice to see Cesc again,” Hleb told the Daily Telegraph. “We’ve been messaging each other. When I see him, I will … [makes a mock punching gesture] no, I’m joking.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10: Maurizio Sarri, Manager of Chelsea looks on prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Etihad Stadium on February 10, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

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According to Gianfranco Zola, the difficult time the Italian manager is having currently with the Blues is just like Guardiola suffered in his first season with Manchester City.

When asked who is the better player out of the two of them, Hleb remained coy and replied: “Ask Cesc, he knows!”

The 37-year-old reflected fondly of his time at Arsenal and is feeling optimistic about their chances of Premier League glory this season.

Under new manager Unai Emery, Arsenal have won their last 10 games in succession.

“Of course,” said Hleb, when asked if they can win.

“They start not good, but now like a rocket they go up.”