Patrick Vieira has explained some of Crystal Palace’s tactics that have seen them take four points off Manchester City this season – and also keep back-to-back clean sheets against Pep Guardiola’s side.
City have scored against 26 of the 27 teams they have faced in the 2021-22 campaign – with the Eagles the only club to deny them.
But Palace won 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium in late October and then dented the visitors’ Premier League title hopes with a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park tonight.
“It was a team effort, both games we played against them we conceded a lot of chances and our keeper had a really good game,” Vieira told Sky Sports. “When you play against a team of City’s quality you need a little bit of luck and at times, in both games, we had times we were lucky.
“But you also need to perform well and we did it.
“We were really focused [in training] on the defensive side of it. We knew we were not going to have the possession, it was really important for the midfield five to be tight and compact – to stop the finding those players inside the pockets. We know when they find those players they become really, really dangerous. We did it really well.
“We wanted to force the ball wide and from there start to put pressure on the ball. We had a really good gameplan and the players executed it really well.
“It was tense from the first minute but when you play against City you have to be ready because they will have the possession and create chances. The players managed a difficult situation really well.”
Sky pundit Jamie Carragher asked Vieira about the tactic of Gallagher stepping out to press Aymeric Laporte in both fixtures.
“Conor is full of energy and he loves defending going forward,” said the Eagles chief. “We wanted to use his energy and positivity to close down the second centre-half. He’s jumping from the midfield really well, with a lot of intensity. He’s strong and managed to win a couple of balls.”
Palace now head into an FA Cup quarter-final against Everton on Sunday at Selhurst Park.
“We want to make the end of the season really exciting, win more games in the league and finish as high as we can,” said Vieira. “We always talk about having a good run in the FA Cup, we’re still in that competition and it will be a massive game against Everton. If we manage to win that one it will be a really exciting end to the season.
“When you see our fans today, they deserve these kind of performances. We want to give them something because they have been fantastic for us since the beginning of the season.”
PICTURES: ROB AVIS