Rafael Benitez today praised Liverpool's unsung defensive hero after Alvaro Arbeloa's 90 minute display at the weekend ensured he remains the only outfield player to play every second of every match so far this season.
The 24-year-old - who only started playing at left back for the first time this season - has been a constant figure in the first team as the Reds have climbed to the top of the table and qualified for the group phase of the Champions League. "Arbeloa has done a good job for us so far," said Benitez. "He is a young, fit boy and we know he is only going to get better in the future. "He wasn't used to the left back position at all but he has come in and performed very well. When you look how well he did on his debut for us up against Lionel Messi in Barcelona then you can see he is a player with ability. "His best positions are in the centre or on the right, so it shows his quality that he can come into a new team and adapt in a different role. "We've had international breaks and some problems with injuries this season and so we've used players who have been working with us and who are fit. He's taken the chances he has been given very well. "We're very pleased with him but he can still improve. He needs to keep working hard and if he maintains his form then I'm sure he'll play many more games for us this season." The boss has also spoken of his delight that while goals are flying in at one end of the field, the door has regularly been locked shut on opposition defences at the other end. "Over the past couple of years we have been very tight at the back and not given too much away. I'm pleased we've started the season in the same way," he said. "It's important when the forward players are scoring goals to make sure you're keeping them out at the back and at the moment we're playing well as a team unit."