Matthew Upson will sleep like a baby on Saturday night safe in the knowledge that the biggest nightmare for all Premiership defenders, Thierry Henry, is in the treatment room.

However, while Upson won?t be waking up in a cold sweat at the thought of facing arguably the best striker in Europe, he certainly won?t be clicking into cruise control mode against Arsenal.

A Gunners team bereft of talent such as Patrick Vieira (sold to Juventus) and Henry (hamstring injury) is undoubtedly poorer than it was last season but, as they showed in their midweek Champions League win in Ajax, they are still a potent threat.

Upson spent six years at Highbury under the tutelage of Arsene Wenger before linking up with Birmingham in January 2003 and is well qualified to assess Arsenal?s squad.

While the name of Robin van Persie might not strike fear into the heart of defenders the way that Henry does, Upson is well aware that both he, and his defensive cohorts, are in for a testing Sunday afternoon in North London.

Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and Dennis Berg-kamp are all capable of embarrassing any defence in the world and Upson contests that the well-worn argument of successful teams struggling for from following a Champions League fixture is virtually redundant because of squad rotation.

?It won?t put us at a disad-vantage to play Arsenal after a big European game in midweek,? he admitted. ?But I don?t think it makes much difference because their squad is so big that they will operate a rotation system and the players they bring in will be of a good standard.

?Henry is a major threat, so if you playing against Arsenal without him, you are going to have an advantage.

?However, in my opinion, they have still got bundles of quality to replace him with, and they will still be a very difficult team to face.

?It would be very nice to maintain our unbeaten away record and it is a decent time to be playing them, as they have got a couple of injury problems and haven?t had the best of starts .

?It?s not a bad time to go Highbury - if there is such a thing - and hopefully we can be solid and keep our away run going.?

Upson has earmarked the next three months as pivotal to Birmingham?s ambitions this term. Fortunately, a sluggish start has been matched by half of the Premiership and even two straight wins could propel them towards the business end of the table. Nevertheless, Upson is judging Blues on performances rather than results thus far, and he is convinced there is scope for improvement.

?The division is so tight that a win last Saturday would have taken us up to tenth, which is crazy, as we have had a really poor start, but a lot of teams are in the same boat,? he said.

?Up to Christmas is a really important time for us and we need to start chalking up some points. We haven?t had the best of starts and perhaps we need to find a bit more balance between the team. We need to be better when we haven?t got the ball and become more difficult to beat.

?If we can play with a bit of confidence and pick up a couple of wins, we will be more positive. Personnel has changed and we still need to be attack-minded but, when we lose the ball, we need to get a better shape.

?That might involve the wide players tucking in more and defending a bit better from the front. However, we need to be far better at the back as well, because there have been a few individual errors that have cost us goals this season.?

Upson, who admits the novelty of returning to High-bury as an opponent is no longer a novelty, is adamant the feelgood factor is still prevalent at Birmingham?s Wast Hills training camp. But he is at a loss to explain why their home form has put such a dampener on proceedings.

?Training is okay and the atmosphere is fine,? he added. ?There are no major snags as to why we aren?t winning; it is a lot of smaller things that make up the bigger picture.

?It has been a difficult time for us so we need to dig deep, find some resolve and crack on as there is room for improvement everywhere.?