Patrick Vieira said that he didn’t regret deciding to set his team up with a defensive mindset in their 1-1 draw with rivals Brighton – but admitted it was a frustrating evening for Odsonne Edouard, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise.
The Eagles only recorded one shot on target in the entire 90 minutes and had fewer touches and passes compared to Brighton.
When asked if he regretted setting his team up with defending at the forefront of their game plan, Vieira insisted: “No, no regret at all – that was our plan because of the strength of the opposition team.
“When you’re looking at our front three, and when you have put the number of games they have played together in the Premier League, it’s a huge difference – the physicality is different as well.
“We have to be smart, and we have to be brave, but we have to accept that today, we have to defend well before thinking about playing. That is what we need to learn, and this is what the players need to understand – there are two parts of a game.
“In the first part of the season, we showed that we are capable of playing, but in the defensive side of the game, we needed to do better, and we needed to improve.
“That is why I am really pleased and happy to go back home with the draw because we needed to do the dirty work, we needed to do it well, and players need to understand that is part of the game as well.”
Vieira changed all three of his forward players in the second half, taking off Edouard for Jean-Philippe Mateta, Eze for Luka Milivojevic and Olise for Christian Benteke.
When asked if Edouard, who appeared to head down the tunnel when he was replaced in the 66th minute, had any sign of a serious injury, Vieira said: “He has got some small issues, but nothing bad.
“Today, it was a frustrating game for him, for Eze and for Michael, but we need to learn that we can’t have the ball all the time.
“We have to be more patient, and we have to accept that we can’t have the ball all the time, and you will get a moment where we have to roll our sleeves up and do the dirty work – that is how we will be stronger as a team.
“We have to learn that side of the game in the second part of the season.
“Today, we had a really good understanding, but we have to keep insisting on that side of the game.”
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