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Vieira and Arteta prepare for Premier League battle

Crystal Palace host Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday (20:00 KO) and the rival managers at Selhurst Park have plenty of common ground.

Palace boss Patrick Vieira and Gunners gaffer Mikel Arteta are both former Arsenal captains who started their coaching careers as part of Pep Guardiola's set-up at Manchester City.

Both have shown great faith in young players and that policy is paying off as Palace, 3/1 for victory on Monday, are into the FA Cup semi-finals and pushing for a top-half finish in the league, while 19/20 visitors Arsenal are on course to make the top four.

Arteta repaying faith shown in him

Arteta was appointed as Unai Emery's successor at Arsenal in December 2019 and he led the north-London club to the FA Cup at the end of his first season, upsetting Man City in the semi-finals and Chelsea in the final.

Despite that early success, the Spaniard has had to weather a few storms at the Emirates Stadium and, having previously been Guardiola's assistant at City, there were doubts over whether he had enough experience for the job.

Last season the Gunners missed out on qualifying for Europe for the first time in 25 years and they started this term with a 2-0 defeat at promoted Brentford, a 2-0 loss at home to Chelsea, and a 5-0 rout against champions City.

The club stuck by their under-pressure manager and Arteta is delivering the goods as his side arrive at Selhurst Park on a run of 10 wins in 13 Premier League matches, with their only defeats during that run coming against title contenders City and Liverpool.

Spaniard has transfer bleuprint

Arsenal had a busy summer in the transfer market, focusing on signings aged 23 or younger, and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, centre-back Ben White, right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu and playmaker Martin Odegaard have had excellent campaigns.

Homegrown talents Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are full England internationals while Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli is another exciting prospect and Arsenal have kicked on despite the departure of star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in January.

Arteta laid the foundations last season when the Gunners had the third-best defensive record in the Premier League despite finishing only eighth. They have maintained those standards this term while adding some attacking zest and a more ruthless mentality.

There is still a gap between them and the top clubs. They have lost all five of their matches against City, Liverpool and Chelsea but 17 wins in 23 matches against the rest of the division is an outstanding return.

Frenchman has answered his critics

Unlike Arteta, Vieira had some managerial experience before arriving at Palace last summer, taking charge of MLS side New York City FC for two years and then coaching Nice in his native France.

There were still question marks over his ability to lead a Premier League club, however, and Palace's first 10 games included away trips to Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City as well as tough clashes with West Ham, Tottenham, Arsenal, Leicester and rivals Brighton.

The Eagles lost 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and Anfield but those were the only setbacks in an impressive start under their new boss.

Palace beat 10-man Spurs 3-0 to give Vieira his first league win while only an injury-time equaliser from Alexandre Lacazette denied him three points at Arsenal in October.

Youngsters allowed to thrive

Even more impressive was a 2-0 win at champions City, thanks to goals from Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher, and the Eagles held the Citizens to a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture just before the international break.

Chelsea loanee Gallagher was one of three Palace players named in Gareth Southgate's latest England squad, along with new caps Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell, and Michael Olise is another youngster who has flourished under Vieira this season.

The winger, signed from Reading for a modest transfer fee of £8m last summer, has been called up to the France Under-21 squad after some dazzling displays for a Palace side who have found their attacking mojo under Vieira.

For so long, the Eagles were reliant on Zaha for creative inspiration and they scored just 72 goals in 76 league matches in their final two seasons under Roy Hodgson.

That average of 0.95 goals per game has increased to 1.34 under Vieira, whose stock has also risen at Selhurst Park after Palace's run to the FA Cup semi-finals.

They thumped Everton 4-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea at Wembley and are 14/1 to cap an excellent campaign by lifting the cup for the first time in their history.

Vieira's immediate focus is on taking three points off the club where he spent nine glorious years as a player and Monday's game should be an intriguing contest between two teams heading in the right direction.

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