Thomas Vermaelen believes his central defensive partner Laurent Koscielny deserves immense credit for his fine form at the heart of Arsenal's back line this season.
The 26-year-old Frenchman has built on a steady first year in English football by establishing an impressive partnership alongside the Gunners' vice captain, who was not short on praise for his teammate.
"In the last couple of months we have played together a lot of times and I am pleased with that," Vermaelen told the official Arsenal website. "He is a great player. I think we know each other's qualities so at the moment it is going well.
"He has done amazing this season and I don't understand why a lot of criticism was there in the first season. The first week I saw him you could tell he was a great player and now it is all coming out in his second season. I am really happy for him.
"He is [good] all round. He is quick, strong and good with the ball. I think we are quite similar players as well. There are just a lot of things about defending that he is really good at and that is why I like him.
"We want to play from the back of course, that is how we always want to play. He is really good in that as well so that always gives you more confidence at the back."
The defensive duo helped Arsene Wenger's side keep a fifth clean sheet in seven matches against Chelsea on Saturday, but Vermaelen believes the players deserved more than the point gained following the 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium.
"I don't want to say [there was] frustration," he added. "We know it is not the best result but it is not bad either. We managed to keep a clean sheet but unfortunately we couldn't score.
"We still had to win the game so we wanted the three points but in the end we got only one. I think it was a close game, it was not because people were tired.
"Chelsea came here to defend I think and sometimes the tempo was too low I think to get through there. Maybe that is why we looked a bit tired but I don't think that was the case.
"Against Wigan we started really badly in the game and I think the last two games we played to win. We didn't and they were really good chances to put ourselves into third place comfortably. At the moment we still have to fight for third place."
Arsenal still lead the race for automatic Champions League qualification despite failing to win their last two Premier League matches, and have crucial fixtures against Stoke, Norwich and West Brom remaining.
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