Patrick Vieira backs Eberechi Eze to become key player for Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira has sought to end comparisons between Conor Gallagher and Eberechi Eze, with the Eagles midfielder insisting he will not get out of anyone’s shadow when Crystal Palace host Arsenal in the Premier League curtain-lifter.

Allagher’s successful loan spell with Palace in 2021/22 helped him gain international recognition with England before returning to Chelsea this summer, leaving some worried about how Vieira would cope without him.

Eaz appeared in top form, seeing a possible solution in the pre-season, after spending much of the last campaign trying to get his career back on track following an Achilles injury in May 2021.

“The profiles and quality of those players are completely different,” Vieira said.

“I feel [Eze] If Connor was here it would still be shining. He went through a really tough period with injuries, but he ended the season quite well and played the last few games since the start of the pre-season.

“He is training every single day, so I believe he is doing his best and will be an important player for us.

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

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

While Eze is likely to start against the Gunners, his manager urged patience as the team adjusts to life without Gallagher and over the summer Chek Doukoure, Malcolm Abiowei, Chris Richards and injured Sam Johnstone settle in south London. Huh.

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

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

Those teammates would welcome more new faces to training before the September 1 transfer deadline, with Vieira admitting he still sees gaps “across the field”.

People will expect more from the PalacePatrick Vieira

The former Arsenal captain is particularly keen on nurturing Palace’s young talent with greater maturity. Doukoure is 22 and Michael Ollis is 20, while South London native Abiowei turns 19 next month.

“Yeah, we need a little more experience,” Vieira said. “We have some players who need a little bit of support and the pressure is on their shoulders to let them express themselves.

“We’re looking forward to improving that side of the game.”

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


Malcolm Ebiowie, 18, is one of Palace’s youngest talents (Barrington Combs/PA)

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

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

“It will be important to maintain the performance and quality that we show but allow ourselves to be more competitive on a more consistent basis.”