Patrick Vieira believes Eberechi Eze will become a key player for Crystal Palace

Patrick Vieira has called for an end to comparisons between Conor Gallagher and Eberechi Eze, insisting that the Eagles midfielder will not emerge from anyone’s shadow when Crystal Palace host Arsenal in the Premier League opener.

Allaher’s successful loan spell at Palace in 2021/22 helped him garner international recognition in England before he returned to Chelsea this summer, leaving some worried about how Vieira will manage without him.

Eze looked like a very potential pre-season decision, showing up in top form after spending most of the last campaign getting his career back on track after suffering an Achilles injury in May 2021.

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

“I think [Eze] would shine even if Conor was here. He went through a really difficult period due to injuries, but finished the season quite well and played the last couple of games since the start of the preseason.

“He trains every single day, so I think he will give his best and will be an important player for us.

“I don’t expect Abs to give us what Conor gave us last year. They 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 we were last year.”

Vieira has options when it comes to Friday’s starting XI: Palace will take on a revamped Arsenal in a contest he believes will be “completely different” from their meeting in Selhurst in April, which Palace won by 3:0.

Although Eze is likely to start against the Gunners, his manager urged patience as the team adjust to life without Gallagher, with summer signings Shake Doucourt, Malcolm Abioway, Chris Richards and an injured Sam Johnston settling in south London.

“We still have to give [Eze] it’s time to show your best side,” said Vieira. “We have no doubts about how good he can be for us.

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

These teammates are likely to welcome new faces into training before the September 1 transfer deadline, and Vieira admits he still sees gaps “all over the field.”

People will expect more from the PalacePatrick Vieira

The former Arsenal captain is particularly keen to bolster Palace’s young talent with more maturity. Ducur is 22, Michael Olize is 20 and south London native Ebioway turns 19 next month.

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

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

He agreed that this pressure also applies to the entire first team, who are aiming for a top 10 finish this season after finishing 12th in the table last campaign.


Malcolm Abioway, 18, is one of the youngest talents at Palace (Barrington Coombs, PA).

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

“We will have to deal with this. At the same time, we have to live with these expectations and pressures because we had a good season last year.

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