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Barca hammer Villarreal

sports Updated: Aug 31, 2011 00:13 IST

Lionel Messi and Thiago Alcantara led Barcelona to a dominating 5-0 win over Villarreal on Monday to open the defending champion's campaign for a fourth straight Spanish league title.

Despite a makeshift defense and coming off a European Super Cup victory just three days before, Barcelona responded to Real Madrid's 6-0 rout of Zaragoza over the weekend.

Thiago and Cesc Fabregas struck before halftime, Alexis Sanchez extended the lead and Messi capped the victory at Camp Nou stadium with a pair of late goals.

Barcelona has now gone undefeated in all competitions at home since last season's home opener.

"We are very happy considering where we came from," said coach Pep Guardiola, who has already added two pieces of silverware to Barcelona's trophy case this summer.

"This team has demonstrated that it always wants more."

With starters Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Adriano and Maxwell all out with injury, and Dani Alves serving a suspension from last season, Guardiola experimented with a three-man defensive line with Eric Abidal alongside reconverted midfielders Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets.

Even with the new system and Spanish internationals Xavi Hernandez and David Villa on the bench, Guardiola's team continued to mesmerize with its possession-based attack.

Arsenal sign mertesacker?

German international Per Mertesacker was given a day off German team training on Tuesday by coach Joachim Loew so he could travel to England and sign for Arsenal for a fee believed to be up to 11 million euros.

Mertesacker, who Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes will resolve a longstanding problem at centreback brutally exposed last Sunday when Manchester United humiliated them 8-2, will rejoin a squad that is preparing for a Euro qualifier against Austria on Friday.

Arsenal also said on Tuesday that they had a agreed a deal to sign striker Park Chu-Young from French club AS Monaco.

The 26-year-old South Korea captain scored 25 times in 91 appearances for the French club.

Fenerbahce's Brazilian left-back Andre dos Santos has also been signed by the London club for 6.2 million pounds reported the Daily Mail on Tuesday.