Patrick Vieira joins Eberechi Eze as a key player for Crystal Palace


Patrick Vieira called for an end to the comparisons between Conor Gallagher and Eberechi Eze and insisted the Eagles midfielder will not step out of anyone’s shadow when Crystal Palace host Arsenal in the Premier League opener.

Gallagher’s successful loan at Palace in the 2021/22 season helped earn him international recognition at England before his return to Chelsea this summer, leading some to worry about how Vieira would fare without him.

Eze looked very much like the possible solution in pre-season and showed himself in top form after spending much of last season getting his career back on track after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in May 2021.

“The profile and quality of these players are completely different,” said Vieira.

“I find [Eze] would shine even if Conor were here. He’s been through a really tough time with injuries but he’s finished the season quite well and has played the last few games since pre-season started.

“He’s been training every day so I believe he’s doing his best and will be an important player for us.

“I don’t expect Ebs to give us what Conor gave us last year. You play differently. They have different strengths and it will be important for these players to play with their quality and I believe we can be as good as last year.”

Vieira has options when it comes to Friday’s starting XI. Palace face a revamped Arsenal side in a competition he believes will be “completely different” from their April meeting at Selhurst, which Palace won 3-0.

While Eze is likely to face the Gunners, his manager urged patience as the team adjust to life without Gallagher and summer signings Cheick Doucoure, Malcolm Ebiowei, Chris Richards and injured Sam Johnstone settle in south London.

“We still have to give [Eze] Time to do his best,” said Vieira. “We have no doubt about how good he can be for us.

“His strength is when he has the ball at his feet and he can create something, he can score goals. It’s not just about him, it’s also about the players around him.”

Those team-mates are likely to welcome more new faces into training ahead of the September 1 transfer deadline, with Vieira admitting he still sees gaps “everywhere on the field”.

People will expect more from Palace

Patrick Viira

The former Arsenal captain is particularly keen to boost Palace’s young talent with more maturity. Doucoure is 22 and Michael Olise 20, while South London native Ebiowei will be 19 next month.

“Yes, we need a bit more experience,” said Vieira. “We have a couple of players who need a bit of support and have pressure on their shoulders to express themselves.

“We look forward to improving this side of the game.”

That pressure, he agreed, also applies to the entire first team, which is pushing for a top-10 finish this season after finishing 12th in the table last season.

Malcolm Ebiowei, 18, is one of Palace’s youngest talents (Image: Barrington Coombs/PA)

(PA wire)

“People will expect more from Palace,” added Vieira ahead of his second season in the managerial chair.

“We have to sort that out. At the same time we have to live with that expectation and that pressure because we had a good season last year.

“It will be important to maintain these achievements and the quality we are showing, but on a more consistent basis to allow us to be more competitive.” Patrick Vieira joins Eberechi Eze as a key player for Crystal Palace

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