Patrick Vieira explained that he was forced to take Vicente Guaita off at half time for Jack Butland in Crystal Palace’s 1-0 loss at home to Chelsea due to the Spanish shotstopper picking up an injury.
Guaita started the encounter at Selhurst Park and pulled off a vital save in the 20th minute to deny N’Golo Kante after Malang Sarr played through a defence-splitting pass.
Butland has played every minute of Palace’s FA Cup run this season and also played the full match and saved a penalty in the 1-1 draw with Brighton in the Premier League.
Butland was called into action in the 74th minute when he pulled off a save to thwart Romelu Lukaku, but the ball landed at the feet of Hakim Ziyech to tap home. The goal was ruled out for offside by VAR.
“He felt something behind his knee and decided to stop – he couldn’t play on,” explained the Palace boss.
Vieira changed his style of play to take on Thomas Tuchel’s Club World Cup winners – playing Wilfried Zaha as the lone forward with Jeffrey Schlupp, Michael Olise and Jordan Ayew behind him.
Vieira has played 4-3-3 for the majority of his time in the Crystal Palace dugout.
Speaking on whether the formation change was due to the absence of Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher, Vieira explained: “I wanted us to have the midfield tight and compact, and at the same time, we needed to put pressure on the ball.
“It was important for us to stop Chelsea from finding players between the lines.
“Overall, the way we defended was good – we frustrated them a lot. But when you’re looking at their quality, we needed concentration to be consistent until the end of the game.
“When you run a lot, you lose a bit of concentration, and it happened at the end.
“It doesn’t matter what system you use, it’s about the animation. Today, the players worked hard not to give Chelsea space and allow them to express themselves.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD