Patrick Vieira has promised to put the emotions of his Arsenal return aside to focus on Crystal Palace’s search for Premier League points.
Vieira takes his Palace side to the Emirates Stadium on Monday night as he prepares to meet Arsenal for the first time as a manager.
The French World Cup winner won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the Gunners captaining them through their unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ season in 2003-04.
“I am really looking forward to it,” said Vieira, who played over 400 games for Arsenal after joining them from AC Milan for a bargain £3.5million in August 1996.
“I had the chance to play for this football club 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 because it will be important for us to perform well and to get points.”
Vieira’s contribution to Arsenal under Arsene Wenger guarantees him a rousing reception from the Gunners’ faithful on Monday.
Asked whether it will be difficult to keep his emotions in check, Vieira said: “I will answer that question after the game.
“Nine years is quite a long period of time. In that period we were successful and I was really pleased to be part of a generation of players who make history for this football club.
“Going back there will be emotional, yes, but the focus and the concentration will be how can we perform well to have more chance of getting what we want.
“It’s about controlling yourself as a manager and controlling the emotion. I always try to do that and will try to do that again on Monday.”
Arsenal have not won the Premier League title since Vieira left in north London in 2005, with the ‘Invincibles’ the last squad to do so.
But Vieira declined to get into the reasons behind the Gunners’ title drought, saying: “That’s a question to really ask people who have been inside this football club.
“I’m just like everybody else analysing things from outside.
“I don’t want to get into details because it’s difficult to talk about when you don’t have all the information. I was outside the country and didn’t follow them as closely.”
Palace did not pick up any knocks during the international break and playmaker Ebere Eze continues to make good progress from the serious Achilles injury he suffered in May.
“Eze’s getting better,” said Vieira, whose side have drawn four of their seven league games with only the one victory against Tottenham.
“He is taking some part of the collective training but we don’t want to put any kind of pressure or dates when he will be ready.
“He is doing well and we just have to see how he is feeling week after week. We need wins. We are really close of getting what we want, to win football matches.
“We are still making some mistakes that costs us points and it’s important for us to turn those good performances into wins.”