Patrick Vieira was denied a dream return to the Emirates as his Crystal Palace side were held to a 2-2 draw by Arsenal thanks to Alexandre Lacazette’s last-gasp equaliser
Patrick Vieira said he’s “always going to be an Arsenal fan” after the Crystal Palace boss was given a rapturous reception on his return to the Emirates.
Regarded by many as the greatest midfielder ever to grace the Premier League, Vieira won three domestic titles and four FA Cups under legendary Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
After winning two league and cup doubles, he became captain in 2002, and led Arsenal to their ‘Invincibles’ title triumph of 2003/04.
And the Gunners faithful chanted their hero’s song during the early stages of the clash against Palace, which was Vieira’s first return to the Emirates as a manager.
Asked about his welcome after the game, Vieira told Sky Sports : “I spent nine years here. We played really good football at times. I was lucky to be part of a great generation of footballers.
“I’m always going to love this football club, the fans, and I’m always going to be an Arsenal fan I would say.”
“When you go to a manager role, you have to work hard for the team,” he said.
“I’m lucky to have a good foundation and surrounded by people who want to improve the football club at Crystal Palace.”
Vieira’s side looked set for what would have been a deserved win after second-half goals from Christian Benteke and Odsonne Edouard saw them recover from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early opener.
Conor Gallagher had a chance to equalise in the dying moments of the first half, but saw his shot saved by Aaron Ramsdale.
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And Lacazette’s last-gasp leveller meant Palace left north London with just a point, after they had been the better side for much of the game.
“It was so close,” Vieira said. “But we’ve been saying that too often. We have to learn from these games. The side deserved to win at the end.
“I’m frustrated for the team. It was unlucky really. I’m disappointed for my players.”
He believes his side’s performance bodes well for the rest of the campaign, saying: “I think the way we played, with lots of character, it’s good for the rest of the season.
“But we conceded goals and we need to work on that and put our bodies on the line. We were really unlucky today. We’re learning in a harsh way.
“I think it’s about the characters of the players we have. Working every single day.”
Vieira said the next step for Palace was to start turning draws into wins, after they were held in their last three league games – and five of their last seven.
“They showed good team spirit and togetherness today,” he said. “We need to turn games around in wins. It’s not good enough to have a good football match.”