Rightback (but can also play on the left)
98 Appearances (as of the end of 2008-2009)
Signed from Deportivo La Coruna in 2007 for 2.6 mil
BACKGROUND BEFORE LFC
Alvaro Arbeloa began his career at Real Madrid, but truly only with their B team, which is known as “Castilla.” With quality players such as Sergio Ramos ahead of him in the pecking order, Arbeloa made the professional decision to leave his beloved Real Madrid and move on to Deportivo La Coruna, as he was only able to earn two first team appearances with Real Madrid’s first team. At Depor, Arbeloa became a regular and played 20 matches. Unfortunately for the club, they were running into financial problems and were forced to sell some of their best players in order to balance the books. Arbeloa was one they could profit from, as he was playing so well.
SIGNING FOR, AND SETTLING INTO, LFC
Alvaro Arbeloa was snapped up by Rafa at the death of the January transfer window in the 2006-2007 season. He cost a meager 2.6 million pounds, which was an incredible bargain for a player of his caliber. Arby made 14 appearances in that first season, one of which was as a sub in the 1-2 loss in the Champions League Final against AC Milan. He even scored a goal (not in the final! It was against Reading) and the funny trivia behind it was that he was the first player wearing the #2 kit that scored a goal for Liverpool since Mike Marsh in 1992! Alvaro would eventually become our #17, but in those first few months he was the #2. Anyhow, Arbeloa would immediately impress, owning Lionel Messi when we played Barcelona and giving fans hope that if Finnan went down, that we’d have decent cover. Ultimately, Finnan would lose his place to the talented Spaniard.
STYLE OF PLAY
Alvaro Arbeloa is definitely more of your “consistent performer” of a defender rather than a tackling guru or a bombarding right wing-back. Unlike Finnan before him, he’s not going to come charging up the side and whipping in crosses. But also unlike Finnan, he is very unlikely to get caught out at the back because of one of those runs. Arbeloa is someone who uses his space well, and likes to link with Dirk Kuyt on the side. The two almost have a telepathic understanding at times, and they often exchange passes as if they’ve memorized each other’s movements. One complaint I always used to have about John Arne Riise was that everything was “long” with him… long balls, overhit shots, passes that went too far, etc. With Arbeloa, it is the exact opposite problem. He is sometimes too “short” with his play. His passes are often only to people within 10 yards of him, his crosses rarely clear the first defender, and he doesn’t think progressively often enough. But all of that said, he is an excellent defender and has really done his job well for us.
Arbeloa has scored two goals, with both of them being beauties from about 15 yards out and into the side netting. But those really aren’t his best moments. In my opinion, his best showing was against Barcelona in 2007 at the Nou Camp, when he truly muted the impact of Lionel Messi. It was as if Messi wasn’t even in the match. And Messi isn’t the only player Arbeloa has done this to. When you watch the highlight videos, more often than not, the chances the opposition get against us seem to be on the left side of our defense rather than on the right. I think Arbeloa has a lot to do with that, especially in the 2008-2009 season.
There were moments during the 2007-2008 season where people were calling for Rafa to drop Arbeloa and stick with Finnan. These commetns were rife in the chatrooms, and possibly the supporters were struggling to see how a player who wasn’t making all of the offensive impact as Finnan was actually displacing the Irishman. What these supporters were not realizing was that we were winning when Arbeloa was playing, and NOT winning when Finnan was out there. Honestly. Since then, things have been great for Arbeloa… until that fateful day against West Bromwich Albion when a simple mistake almost led to a West Brom goal and Jamie Carragher threw all of his toys out of the pram and shoved AA with a fit of fury! Albeit entertaining, and a bit odd, I’m sure Arbeloa was deeply hurt by it. Given his assured performances during the season, and Carragher’s lack thereof, there wasn’t much room for this to happen… yet people in the city of Liverpool seemed to back Carra instead of Arby in this situation.
2008-2009 SEASON VERDICT
The 2008-2009 season was definitely Arbeloa’s best. With Finnan out of the picture, Arbeloa was the clear first choice. He played in 43 matches, with the only reason he didn’t play in all of them being down to either niggling injuries or being rested. When a player gets that kind of run out in the squad, it often leads to more consistent performances, and consistency is EXACTLY what Arbeloa was about this season. There was never the feeling that he’d play a blinder, but there was even less expectancy or possibility of him having a shocker. In a squad that kept the goals out of the net on a regular basis, Arbeloa was one of the central figures of the defense. He had a very good year.
LFC CAREER VERDICT
Arbeloa has been a solid and reliable player for Rafa. In just under 100 appearances in two and a half seasons at the club (by the end of the 08-09 season), AA has been a model professional and has rarely put a foot wrong. Though he may not be on the highlight reel very frequently, if ever, he certainly doesn’t end up being on the wrong END of the highlight reel, either. In other words, he is a stable influence on our club. And a good talent, as well, being a regular member of the Spanish squad, and picking up a EURO 2008 medal along the way. He is one of those players you tend to forget, but as a defender, I’m sure he doesn’t mind that all that much. Definitely better to not be well known than to be known in the same way we all know Titus Bramble! Alvaro has had a consistent and produtive time at the club, and hopefully he’ll stick with us despite the arrival of Glen Johnson. Perhaps he’ll get shifted to left back? Time will tell!