BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has revealed that he has set his squad a historic Premier League-era points total as they approach their final two games of the season.
The Eagles face an Everton team at Goodison Park tonight fighting for their top-flight lives and three points on Merseyside, combined with a win at home against Manchester United on Sunday will see the side from SE25 register 51 league points.
That would beat their previous highest Premier League haul of 49 points gained under Roy Hodgson in the 2018-19 season and under Steve Coppell in the 1992-93 season when the league featured 22 teams.
“I didn’t tell them yet, they will find out now,” joked Vieira to the South London Press when asked if beating the 49 points was a target for the end of the season.
“There are two games [left] and this is one of the tools to get players to have some things at the end.
“It is a really good opportunity and if this group of players manage to do that it will be something positive for them, that will be really good for the football club.”
With just a few days between the games and travel involved, there could be squad changes as Vieira looks to give some fringe players – including the academy starlets Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Tayo Adaramola – some minutes before the season end.
“Maybe,” said a smiling Vieira after a long pause for thought in response to if the two games would see squad changes.
“Jes and Tayo have been training with us every day. He’s [Rak-Sakyi] got really, really good talent and it would be good to see him in one of those two games, it could be at the start or coming from the bench but he will get involved in one of the two games, this is for sure.”
Vieira confirmed to the South London Press that one player who will not appear again this season is Michael Olise, who has been battling an injury in recent weeks following his debut for the France U21s in March.
“The priority is always injuries and the priority is always the player,” said the 1998 World Cup winner. “Michael could train and play games but the risk will be too big to take. We decided to use the end of the season and the break to resolve those issues and for him to come back in pre-season and ready to go again.”