Patrick Vieira is anticipating an emotional return when Crystal Palace make the trip to his former club Arsenal on Monday.
The Frenchman spent nine years with Arsenal in his playing days before departing in 2005, helping the north London club to three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.
Vieira retired in 2011 following spells with Juventus, Inter and Manchester City, before moving into management with New York City FC, Nice and now Palace.
He has had a mixed start to his first managerial job in English football, with Palace in the bottom half of the Premier League, and is targeting a positive result at Emirates Stadium.
“The focus and concentration will be on how can we perform well,” said Vieira, who was 20 when he joined Arsenal from Milan.
“I am really looking forward to it. I had the chance to play for this football club (Arsenal) for nine years. I arrived at this football club when I was a kid and I left as a man.
“That is the club where I played my best football I would say. So obviously going back there will be emotional, but I will put that on the side.
“It will be important for us to perform well and to get points. It’s about controlling yourself as a manager and controlling the emotion.”
Arsenal are three points better off than Palace thanks to an upturn in results that saw them win three and draw one of their last four games before the international break.
Mikel Arteta, who was named September’s Premier League Manager of the Month, has been impressed in the upturn in form but still wants more from his side.
“We managed to turn things around a little bit but there is still a big margin for improvement,” he said.
“But we got important results that were needed in that moment and we need to think about doing things better, progressing up the table and focus on winning our next match.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arsenal – Bukayo Saka
Arteta’s side fired a blank in a goalless draw with Brighton and Hove Albion last time out and could do with returning to scoring ways on Monday.
Saka may well be the key player if Arsenal are to break Palace down, with no other Gunners player creating more than one big chance in the league this term. The Englishman’s 10 chances created has been bettered by only Nicolas Pepe (11).
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
Zaha has two goals and an assist from seven appearances this season, a respectable return given the attention he is often given by opposition defenders.
No player was fouled more often in the opening seven Premier League gameweeks than Zaha (24). He has also been pressured by opponents more often (341) than any player.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Arsenal have won just one of their last six Premier League meetings with Crystal Palace (D4 L1), though it was in their last such meeting in May (3-1 at Selhurst Park).
– Palace are unbeaten in their last three Premier League away games against Arsenal (W1 D2). The Eagles had only avoided defeat in three of their previous 16 visits to Highbury/Emirates Stadium in league competition (W1 D2 L13).
– Arsenal have won their last seven Premier League home games played on a Monday, scoring 15 goals and conceding just twice in return.
– After an 11-game winless run in Premier League London derbies, Palace won their last such match 3-0 against Tottenham. The Eagles have not won consecutive league derby matches since April 2017, which included a 3-0 win against Arsenal.
– Palace have conceded more goals from outside the box than any other side in the Premier League this season (five). However, just two of Arsenal’s last 35 league goals have been from distance, with Willian (v West Brom in May) and Martin Odegaard (v Burnley this season) netting direct free-kicks.