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Matthew Upson: a league winner with Arsenal

Matthew James Upson was born in Suffolk on 18 April 1979 and we were reminded of him once again following an atrocious tackle on Alexis Sanchez on 10 February 2015 in a Premier League match, while Upson was playing for Leicester.

He came up through the Ipswich Academy to Luton Town for whom he played just four minutes as a substitute, and then to Arsenal for £2m on 10 May 1997.  He made his debut on 14 October 1997.

This was the era of having Adams, Bould and Keown as central defenders and Upson had injury problems of his own.  It was only in 2001/2 that he made any sort of breakthrough, and so he won his League Winner’s medal.  However a broken leg meant he missed the FA Cup campaign and so did not win a Cup Winners’ medal as well.

After loans earlier at Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace he now joined Reading before joining Birmingham City in January 2003.  the fee was said to be between £1m and £3m depending on appearances for the club.  He had played 57 times for Arsenal in all competitions.

In January 2007 West Ham’s offer of £6m to £7.5m depending on appearances was accepted (although Transfer Market has his transfer fee at £11.09m) but the injuries continued and he had to come off hurt in both of his first two games and it wasn’t until the following season that he completed a match.  He was transferred to Stoke when Allerdyce became WHU manager.

He went on loan to Brighton in January 2013 before joining Leicester in May 2014.  He has been capped 21 times for England.

In 2008 Arsène Wenger said of Upson, “He is one of the players that I would have loved to hang on to.  If you take the players in the Premier League who have been educated here there are plenty of them. Steve Sidwell, David Bentley, Fabrice Muamba, Matthew Upson… but at some stage if you don’t play them you have to let them go.

“What is important is that they make a career. Upson has made a fantastic career and I knew he was at the age where I had to give it to him or let him go.

“I felt he had, for a very tall guy, quick feet, good pace, a good left foot, a good long ball and he was good in the air. For a centre back that is not bad. He was good on the ball and that is why I am not surprised he has made a good career.”

Here is his Arsenal league record with the loans…

Season Club Games
1997/03 Arsenal 35
2000 Nottingham Forest (loan) 1
2001 Crystal Palace (loan) 7
2002 Reading (loan) 14

The Arsenal History Society blog

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