Crystal Palace on the right path but Patrick Vieira still has creases to iron out

My goodness; Crystal Palace are going to be a very fun side to watch throughout the season, aren’t they?

Recent weeks have seen the Eagles thrive under summer arrival Patrick Vieira, with complete performances providing the clinical touch on already hugely encouraging displays.

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A beautifully-executed game plan at the Etihad saw them beat Manchester City 2-0, while a win by the same score line against Wolves sent them into the international break with two consecutive victories and an understandable buzz about them.

Their first game back after regathering, however, was far from complete. Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Burnley was exciting, captivating and brilliant – but it was a not-so-gentle reminder that Palace, despite progressing nicely under their new boss, are nowhere near the finished article in Vieira’s image.

Patrick Vieria

There was frustration for Patrick Vieira at Turf Moor / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

There was an abundance of the newly-introduced offensive mindset, through which the side expressed themselves brilliantly and managed three goals. This was a clear indication of the stable progression from a defence-orientated squad to one that aims to break their opponents down with what football purists would describe as the ‘proper way’.

As he has so often done this campaign, Conor Gallagher was the centrepiece of Palace’s creative exploration. The new England international was the epitome of the Eagles’ desire to construct free-flowing moves through their opposition.

Gallagher would eventually use his positional awareness, brilliant vision and increasingly impressive quality to play a large hand in his side’s first two goals – both coming about courtesy of an added fluidity in Palace’s style of play this campaign.

While the third came from a goalmouth scramble, there were continuous signs of the Eagles’ development as a ‘playing’ side. From the range and variety of passing all over the pitch to the assured and slick finishing from Christian Benteke up top, Vieira’s men were a joy to watch with the ball.

Ashley Westwood

Crystal Palace’s ability to attack under Patrick Vieira is undoubted / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

There was also, however, evidence of the issue that has cost them points from leading positions on several prior occasions this term – sometimes, they really lack balance and discipline when it counts.

While it’s pleasing to witness a team collectively progressing into an entity that fulfils their creative potential, consistency and an all-encompassing solidity is necessary to really make a mark in the Premier League. Unfortunately, Palace weren’t able to demonstrate that at Burnley.

Despite threatening greatly on the front foot, they were undone by sloppiness at the back; the Clarets first-half strikes were the result of weakness and woeful marking. Ben Mee was able to outmuscle and outjump Joachim Andersen far too easily from the corner that kindled their first, while Chris Wood was simply left alone on the six-yard line to nod home for their second.

Maxwel Cornet scored Burnley’s third to make it 3-3 in the second half after Joel Ward afforded the Ivorian the freedom of the penalty area to pick his spot and – admittedly, sensationally – volley home.

These avoidable goals cost the Eagles a third consecutive victory in the Premier League and yet another superbly-earned result. Instead, Vieira and his men will be feeling the all-too familiar sentiment of two points dropped.

Of course, this isn’t the end of the world. The exhilarating draw signifies their seventh straight game unbeaten in the league, and a point that takes them onto 16 from their opening 12 games – just one fewer than Manchester United’s tally.

While their trip to Turf Moor will inevitably feel like a disappointment, it should be looked at more so as a reality check.

It’s been an incredibly promising beginning to Vieira’s tenure at Selhurst Park. While there are signs of further progression appearing week in week out, there’s still a way to go before finding the sort of consistency that will transform them into a serious top-flight outfit – it’s just a case of remembering that fact and remaining patient.

In any case, with the current trend, that vision seems a very possible reality with the Frenchman at the helm. And I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly looking forward to watching the Eagles soar to loftier heights under Vieira.

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Author: XenBet