Hamburg boss Martin Jol has claimed Aston Villa 'are better than Arsenal'.
Jol's side host Villa on Wednesday night's Uefa Cup clash, and the ex-Tottenham manager is predicting a tough tie against a team who leap-frogged the Gunners into fourth place in the Premier League at the weekend.
Both sides have already qualified for the next round of the competition but this final group game will determine the standings and seeding for the knockout draw, and Jol is not expecting Villa to take it lightly.
"The question is whether they will play with all their regulars," he said.
"The first-team of Aston Villa are better than Arsenal and, next season, Villa will be playing in the Champions League.
"They have a very clever manager and I cannot imagine him not wanting first spot.
"Villa are perhaps one of the best teams in England."
Jol spoke of his admiration of Villa trio Ashley Young, Gabriel Agbonlahor and James Milner, although ironically none of them have made the trip to Germany for tomorrow's fixture.
"Villa are a great side and we were interested at Tottenham in signing Ashley Young. He was a bit too expensive in the end at £9million," Jol said.
"But he has gone up a level since then, Agbonlahor is one of the quickest players in the Premier League while Milner is also an excellent player.
"They have got the talent, as we had a couple of years ago at Spurs, and the future is for them.
Jol insisted that he wants his side to end their group programme with a flourish by overcoming Villa, although Villa counterpart Martin O'Neill appears less keen after also omitting Gareth Barry and captain Martin Laursen from his squad.
"We want to win and we want to win the group. There is not so much pressure now because we have already qualified for the later stages," Jol said.
"But we want to give our fans a good finale to the season, in this competition and when the Bundesliga re-starts."
Jol should recall defender Guy Demel to his defence after he was suspended in the Bundesliga at the weekend while there is a doubt over the fitness of David Jarolim, who has taken a knock to his knee.
This is Hamburg's last game of 2008 before they break for almost seven weeks.
A 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday ensured they will spend the winter break lying in fourth position in the Bundesliga, just two points behind leaders Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich.