patrick viera called for the end of comparisons between Conor Gallagher and Eberechi Ezeinsisting the Eagles midfielder won’t come out of anyone’s shadow when crystal palace host Arsenal in the premier league curtain raiser.
Gallagher’s successful loan spell with Palace in 2021/22 earned him international recognition with England ahead of his return to Chelsea in the summer, leaving some worried about how Vieira would fare without him.
Eze really looked like the potential solution in pre-season, appearing in fine form having spent much of the last campaign getting his career back on track following an Achilles injury suffered in May 2021.
“The profile and quality of these players are completely different,” Vieira said.
“I think [Eze] would shine even if Conor was there. He went through a really tough time with injuries, but he finished the season pretty well and played the last two games since the start of pre-season.
“He’s been training every day, so I think he’s doing his best and he’ll be an important player for us.
“I don’t expect Ebs to give us what Conor 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 think that we can be as good as we were last year.
Vieira has options when it comes to Friday’s starting XI, with Palace facing a revamped Arsenal side in a contest he says will be “completely different” from their April encounter at Selhurst, which Palace have said. won 3-0.
While Eze is likely to start against the Gunners, his manager has urged patience as the team adjust to life without Gallagher and while summer signings Cheick Doucoure, Malcolm Ebiowei, Chris Richards and the injured Sam Johnson settle in South London.
“We still have to give [Eze] time to give his best,” Vieira said. “We have no doubts about the quality he can have 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, but also about the players around him.”
These teammates are likely to welcome more new faces into training ahead of the September 1 transfer deadline, with Vieira admitting he still sees shortcomings ‘all over the pitch’.
The former Arsenal captain is particularly keen to bolster Palace’s young talent with more maturity. Doucoure is 22 and Michael Olise is 20, while Ebiowei, from south London, turns 19 next month.
“Yes, we need a bit more experience,” Vieira said. “We have a few players who need a bit of support and have the pressure on their shoulders to allow them to express themselves.
“We’re looking forward to improving that side of the game.”
That pressure, he agreed, also applies to the entire first team, who are striving for a top-10 finish this season after finishing 12th in the table last campaign.
“People expect more from Palace,” Vieira added, ahead of his second season in the manager’s chair.
“We’re going to have to deal with that. At the same time, we have to live with this expectation and this pressure because we had a good season last year.
“It will be important to maintain this performance and the quality that we are showing but on a more consistent basis to enable us to be more competitive.”
Patrick Vieira backs Eberechi Eze as key Crystal Palace player
Source link Patrick Vieira backs Eberechi Eze as key Crystal Palace player