When you are a new coach at any club, it always pays to have people around you who you can trust. In the case of Patrick Vieira, that was the decision when he brought in former France teammate Claude Makelele into the team. Makelele, a tremendous holding midfielder, took part in Palace sessions on the run-up to the match with Arsenal. The match, which ended in a 2-2 draw, was a notable one for Vieira as he took on his former club as a coach for the first time.
It was a big moment for the coach, but it was also a key moment for his coaching prowess. The arrival of Makelele for a session during that week was seen as an interesting, ambitious move from the coach. The former Chelsea midfielder works with the Blues in a technical role, but was also asked to take part in helping out loan players from Stamford Bridge to improve.
Makelele, then, was on-hand to help his former international teammate to put together a plan to beat Arsenal. They knew each other for many years, playing over 40 games for France in midfield together. Despite being opponents in the club game, the duo have clearly kept a strong connection with one another in the years since.
And now Vieira has used the nous of his former midfield partner to effect, with Palace earning a creditable draw with Arsenal in a very high stakes match-up. His ability to help out with training sessions was a big reason why Makelele has quickly gained a reputation as an elite level coach. Vieira holds similar ideas of creating a patient, attacking side that can control the ball.
The old partnership then was clearly in fine form as both Frenchman dovetailed on the training ground.
What did Palace work on to get a result with Arsenal?
The reports suggest that one of the main reasons for Makelele appearing at training was to work on a program that involved around forcing errors. Vieira has a high energy midfield to pick from, and used the positional nous of his former international colleague to get his Palace team ready to pounce on the opposition.
The goals both came from scenarios like this. The first goal came was a result of Jordan Ayew snapping the ball from Thomas Partey to lay in the opening goal for Christian Benteke. The second goal came as a result of Sambi Lokonga being robbed on the ball by Conor Gallagher, setting up Odsonne Edouard to score shortly after.
Though the game eventually ended a draw, it was another example of the kind of aggressive style that Vieira is working towards implementing at Palace. With so much change in such a short space of time, though, the progress already is very impressive – fans just need to be patient as the team finds a way to make these positive moments a consistent habit later on in the Premier League campaign.