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Patrick Vieira’s message to his Crystal Palace players ahead of Chelsea FA Cup semi-final

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira wants his side to “enjoy” their FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea – but has urged them to remain cool under the pressure that Sunday’s game at Wembley might present.

The Eagles take on Thomas Tuchel’s Blues after beating Millwall, Hartlepool United, Stoke City and fellow Premier League side Everton en route to the semi-final.

James McArthur, Joel Ward and Wilfried Zaha all remain from the squad that beat Watford 2-1 in the last FA Cup semi-final the Eagles reached in the 2015-16 season under Alan Pardew. 

“We know that it is a semi-final, but the main focus was on how we want to approach the game so that the players understand their roles and responsibilities,” said Vieira, who won the competition five times during his playing career.

“The message this week was just to enjoy the moment. Enjoy it, because, for the majority of them, it will be their first [FA Cup] semi-final.

“Yes, the pressure will be different because the game is at Wembley – it is a fantastic stadium, and the atmosphere will be unbelievable.

“But the focus this week was about how we want to play the game.

“We have had a week to prepare for the game, and it was always important to keep the week the same like it has been from the beginning of the season – not doing more meetings. 

“We are preparing for the game the same way we did against Leicester, or against Manchester City or any of the other teams in the league – we’re looking at their strengths, their weaknesses, and how we can hurt them.

Crystal Palace fans during the Emirates FA Cup quarter final match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Sunday March 20, 2022.

“We want to play and want to have possession. It may not happen, but we will try to, as this is how we want to approach the game. 

“It’s about managing their emotion to allow them to perform at the level I know they can. The experienced players will have a responsibility to manage and to create an atmosphere to allow everyone to feel comfortable.

“We want to enjoy the moment – we want to play. We want to have this philosophy in place since we played Chelsea on the opening day of the season. 

“We are in a much better place, but I want us to be as cool as we always have been. But, of course, we know that we have to be tough, we have to be strong, and we have to play.”

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