Alex McLeish praised his side for burying the memory of last week's FA Cup upset against Huddersfield with a workaholic performance that earned a crucial draw at Arsenal.

Blues bounced back from 1-0 down with Garry O'Connor's second goal in as many games to ensure their first trip to the Emirates Stadium was a happy one and that they remain clear of the Premier League relegation places the difference in Saturday's display, compared to the one at the Galpharm Stadium that saw City crash over the first Cup hurdle, was so stark that it was barely believable. While they strolled around last Saturday week, waiting for something to break, they ran themselves to a standstill against Arsene Wenger's side and eventually had the Londoners reduced to attempting long-range pot-shots.

McLeish did not try to conceal his pleasure, nor hide the fact that the cup defeat had not been acceptable: "We are still not perfect when we can go to Huddersfield and lose," he said. "But the players' work-rate today was night and day away from last week's game.

"Their attitude is good, I just think it's inherent in human nature for a wideman to think 'the full back will get that one against Huddersfield but, against Manchester United or Arsenal, I'll do it.' When you get a little bit lazy, results like that will happen.

"It doesn't baffle me, I have been in football for a long time, but we have got to get over that hurdle of dealing with games when there is a better chance of us winning.

"That is why I think we need a bit more quality in terms of the sort of creativity the top teams have."

None of the 60,000 people crammed into the Emirates Stadium would have expected Birmingham to have taken anything from a match against a side who started the day as Premier League leaders, only to be deposed by their failure to win here and Manchester United's 6-0 demolition of managerless Newcastle United.

But despite being run ragged for the first quarter-of-an-hour, Blues dug in and eventually shackled Arsenal's key men. McLeish knew his team's display had more beast than beauty about it, but was pleased nonetheless.

"We are proud of our performance at Arsenal," he said. "It was not a beautiful footballing performance, because we were playing against a side with unbelievable ability.

"The technical disparity was there for everybody to see, between Arsenal and the other teams in the league. But we battled hard."