The King Returns To His Castle: Vieira Takes Improving Palace To Arsenal

The Frenchman has won many plaudits for the way the Eagles are playing
06:55, 18 Oct 2021

It has taken only seven games for much of the Selhurst Park faithful to be won over by Patrick Vieira, but as he goes in search of a second Premier League as Crystal Palace manager on Monday he finds himself on familiar territory. For this is the night he returns to Arsenal.

The former Gunner is fondly remembered for his time in north London, and he was an integral figure as captain in the club’s ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003-04 as well as two other Premier League title wins. The former midfielder was a fantastic player in the Premier League during a golden era with Arsenal at Highbury, becoming one of the most recognised No. 4s in the game. He will forever be etched into the club’s history for being part of that iconic achievement, but while the Frenchman is likely to get a very good reception from his old supporters he will be determined to leave the Emirates with three points. So far, his side have turned in some very impressive performances and are unfortunate to have not picked up more victories to date.

Ahead of the game, the 45-year-old has said he intends to push his emotions aside as he is fully focused on his current project, but he is embracing his return. He told reporters: “I am really looking forward to it. I had the chance to play for this football club for nine years. I arrived at this football club when I was a kid and I left as a man. That is the club where I played my best football, I would say.

“So obviously going back there will be emotional, but I will put that on the side because it will be important for us to perform well and to get points.”

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The Eagles have implemented Vieira’s vision on the pitch quickly and are playing a brand of football that is pleasing on the eye, but they have been left to rue plenty of missed chances. Still, they will provide a huge test for Mikel Arteta’s side, who are yet to make any convincing strides in the league this term. They may have enjoyed a comfortable victory over their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but they are yet to find any consistency as the doubt in their Spanish boss continues to linger.

Monday night’s clash will have the home crowd keeping a close eye on how Vieira does in his first managerial game against them, and it could serve as an unofficial job interview for the Gunners job in the future. If he can galvanise his Palace players to put on a show, playing his exciting brand of football, and deal another defeat on Arsenal, he will certainly have his name moved up Stan Kroenke’s list of potential replacements if it all comes crumbling down for Arteta.

With the upward trajectory the Eagles seem to be on, Vieira’s stock as a manager is set to rise significantly, especially in front of all the cameras in the most widely-watched league in the world. But first he must start turning draws into wins, and he will see the trip to his former employers as a great opportunity to help his side take that next step in their burgeoning revolution.

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