The Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira saw Arsenal only take one point from the Eagles last season, including a 3-0 demolition of Arteta’s young side in this fixture, that just about ended Arsenal’s Top Four hopes, but he fully expects a much tougher test than they faced in April.
Palace are actually a bit of a bogey side for Arsenal and they have only lost one of their last 8 meetings with the Gunners, but you can be sure that he is not expecting an easy game tomorrow. The Eagles also have the amazing record of not conceding a goal at home since April, which gives you an idea of the tough task Mikel Arteta’s revamped team will be facing.
“It will be a completely different game,” Vieira said in his pre-match press conference. “I think with the new players they have in the squad of course they are a better team. They had really good games during the pre-season.
“I think they’re in a better place than last year. The new players they’ve brought in, they are much stronger. They have the squad to challenge and be closer to the title.
“We know that it is going to be challenging but I believe that we have the tools to make it difficult for them, to make it challenging for them. Last year at home with the support we had we had some really good matches, and it will be important to keep it that way.”
“I believe we can be even more competitive than we were last year,” he continued. “The game tomorrow will be important for us to start as well as we can.”
Palace have not been as busy as Arsenal this summer, but he has made a few astute signings on the defensive side that will make them even harder to break down, and they were quite strong to start with. It sounds like Vieira is not feeling inferior to Arsenal in the slightest. “What was really important for us and for me is to keep that stability and try to improve the squad. A couple of players came on [board] and that will give us more challenges because what we want is players to make it difficult for me to choose the starting XI.
“A good season would be to improve ourselves on last year. Players, individually and collectively, we want to be in a better place, play better football, be more competitive. That has to be the challenge for us. We have to raise the bar and be more demanding on ourselves to be more competitive.
“I don’t think the pressure will be more on their side than our side. We’re at home, want to do well and want to compete. It’s the first game of the season so both teams will compete to win the game. We will play with a lot of determination, desire, compete as best we can and of course try to win the game.”
To be fair, we have always said that Palace away would be a real test for Arteta’s side to start the season, and it promises to be a real cracker.
I think we must get a quick start and prove that the Palace defence can be beaten, but it won’t be easy and we may need to be a little bit patient in the early stages. But I’m very hopefully we can send a message to the rest of the League with a massive confidence boosting victory.
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