Crystal Palace ‘short on numbers’ admits Patrick Vieira before new season as he backs Arsenal for title tilt

·2-min read
Crystal Palace ‘short on numbers’ admits Patrick Vieira before new season as he backs Arsenal for title tilt

Patrick Vieira says Crystal Palace remain “short on numbers” as they prepare to kick off the new Premier League season against Arsenal on Friday night - and believes his former club could mount a title challenge this term.

The Eagles have added Lens midfielder Cheick Doucoure and Bayern Munich defender Chris Richards to their ranks this summer, as well as goalkeeper Sam Johnstone and young winger Malcolm Ebiowei on free transfers.

However, Cheikhou Kouyate has left the club following the end of his contract, while Conor Gallagher returned to Chelsea following the end of his superb loan spell.

Vieira is also set to start the campaign without James Tomkins, Michael Olise and James McArthur because of injury and the Frenchman is keen to see more players arrive before the end of the transfer window.

“As a manager you’re always wanting more,” Vieira said. “So far I’ve been really happy with the players we’ve managed to bring in. Obviously, we are short on numbers but we still have a few weeks until the end of the market.

“We had a really good season and what is important for us and for me as a manager is to try to keep that stability that will help us to grow as a team and try to improve the squad. A couple of players came in and that will give us more challenges because what we want is for players to make it really difficult for me to choose the starting XI.

“Squad-wise, we are a little bit short but, like I said earlier on, I believe that we can be even more competitive than we were last year."

By contrast, Arsenal’s transfer activity, in particular the arrivals of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko, has led to soaring optimism at the Emirates ahead of the new campaign, with the Gunners having won all of their pre-season friendlies bar a behind-closed-doors loss to Brentford with a weakened team.

Patrick Vieira admits that Crystal Palace remain short on numbers for the new top-flight term (Getty Images)
Patrick Vieira admits that Crystal Palace remain short on numbers for the new top-flight term (Getty Images)

Vieira took four points off his former club during his first campaign as Palace manager but says the team that arrives at Selhurst Park tomorrow night will provide a sterner test.

“They are in a better place than last year,” Vieira added. “When you look at the new players they’ve brought into the team, they are much stronger. They have the squad to challenge to be closer to the title.

“It will be a completely different game. With the new players they have in the squad they are a better team, they had really good games during pre-season. We know that it’s going to be challenging but I believe we have the tools to make it difficult for them.”

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