Football: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Fresher Air Will Clear Up Horizon; Leicester City V Birmingham City

Article excerpt

Byline: Fraser Thomson

For Matthew Upson, collective responsibility is the mantra by which Birmingham City must survive their second season in the top flight of English football.

Quick to celebrate success, he is equally swift to shoulder the blame for Blues' recent poor run of results.

Despite not being in the side that crashed to a 4-0 defeat against Blackburn Rovers last week, he will not distance himself from the problems that have beset Birmingham.

Now free of the calf injury he sustained in the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, he is itching to be a part of the revival.

'The team as a whole needs to improve,' Upson said after a rigorous training session with his team-mates at Wast Hills this week. 'We have been on this run for about eight games and I have been quite a big part of the poor results as well. I can't put it down to the fact that I didn't play [against Blackburn].

'The team needs a bit of refreshing. We need to go out on Saturday with a positive mind and start working hard for each other.

'We need to get back to the basics that we played at the start of the season.

'It is hard to put your finger on what has gone wrong. We have played some top sides --a lot of good teams --but we need to recreate that atmosphere of a high workrate.'

While each and every player must share the blame, Upson says the benchmark has been set by some of the newcomers at St Andrew's. David Dunn, Mikael Forssell and Christophe Dugarry have set the mark to which others must aspire.

'We have now brought in some players who are very talented on the ball and I think the people around them maybe need to work a little bit harder to help them create space to do their business. 'They need to raise their level to match the new guys.'

If Birmingham's recent fortunes are to be reversed, today is the day to do it. Leicester City, despite a run which is the converse of Blues', are nowhere near the threat of Arsenal and Liverpool. Upson, however, refuses to treat the game lightly.

He said: 'Leicester will be a very physical game. We know how they play. They get the ball wide, get their crosses into the box and, from a defender's point of view, it will be a tough game. They have some big threats.

'They will play [James] Scowcroft wide and look to hit him hard on the diagonal, because he will be heading against Jamie Clapham and you would fancy him because of his height advantage.

'Les Ferdinand is still putting in good performances every week. …