Upson up for Arsenal

Matthew Upson sees no reason why West Ham United cannot replicate their outstanding victory against Manchester United when they arrive at Arsenal on New Year's Day.

The seven-times capped England defender was the hero of Saturday's 2-1 victory, rising above the United defence to power in a headed winner from Mark Noble's corner with just eight minutes left to play. It left the club with seven points from a potential nine in the last three games - and secure in tenth place at the turn of the year.

"We are going to go and give a good account of ourselves," Upson told WHUTV. "We will take confidence to Arsenal and it has relieved a bit of pressure because our points tally over the Christmas period is looking quite healthy now and again we haven't got too much to lose."

Upson, who played for Arsenal between 1997 and January 2003, said there was "not really" any extra incentive for him to do well at his former club. "I have been back a few times now so it is the same as every week," he added. That consistency of focus regardless of the opposition is something the 28-year-old has been keen to stress this campaign, with the key to treat every match as if it was a major encounter.

"It is something we need to learn from and apply that same level of focus and determination every week, regardless of whether it is Manchester United or Reading or whoever comes to Upton Park. We need to set about them in the same fashion."

Thinking back to last season's double victories against both United and Arsenal, as well as strong showings this campaign against the same teams, he added "in these games we have applied ourselves really well". Never was that more in evidence than on Saturday though, when the home team had to come from behind to win. "We really earned the result. Everybody worked really hard. We played well and on the day I think we deserved it."

While Upson, who is closing in on a year in east London after his switch from Birmingham City, got the glory at the end, a pivotal moment was Cristiano Ronaldo's missed penalty with the visitors looking to double their advantage. Upson said the resulting roar from the Boleyn Ground faithful spurred the team on. "It gave us a lift. It kept us in the game. Two-nil down at that stage would have been really hard to come back from but it kept us in the game with a fighting chance and we took advantage."

That it was Upson who claimed the decisive strike would have surprised many, with the club's only outfield player to have featured in every minute in the top flight this season having been frustrated in front of goal on numerous occasions. "It has been long enough now," he said. "I have been dying for a goal and it has come on a great day and a great occasion. I can't ask for more really."

Were Upson to ask for more though, it would surely be another positive result at the Emirates to go with last season's 1-0 away win. While few neutrals would perhaps back West Ham United against the league leaders, Upson is thinking otherwise. "I am sure there will be more upsets. Every week they are expected to win - it is part of the pressure - and results like this happen."

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