Serial FA Cup winner Patrick Vieira aims to go far with Crystal Palace

Soccer – FA Cup – Final – Arsenal v Manchester United – Millennium Stadium
(Image credit: Rebecca Naden)

Patrick Vieira has told his Crystal Palace players to make the most of a favourable draw as he targets a long run in the FA Cup this season.

Palace will be overriding favourites when they face Hartlepool, 16th in League Two, at home in the fourth round on Saturday, and five-time Cup winner Vieira recognises the opportunity that gives them.

“We want to give ourselves the best chance to go to the next round,” Vieira said. “We want to have a really good run in the FA Cup. We were lucky to have a draw at home so we have to take that advantage.

“We will do our best to get to the next round. We know we are the favourite so we have to be mentally prepared. There will be no excuses, we will be ready for it and we will compete in the right way to get to the next round.

“We are facing a team who want to create an upset, a team who will work hard and make it difficult so we have to be mentally prepared for that challenge.”

Vieira lifted the FA Cup five times as a player – four with Arsenal and once with Manchester City at the end of his career.

The 45-year-old insisted he does not talk to his squad about his many achievements as a player, having no interest in living in the past, but he could only smile when asked about his favourite memory in the competition.

“The FA Cup is something I discovered when I arrived in the UK, and there is always a lot of passion around those game,” he said. “It is an important competition for the fans and the club.

“The first with Arsenal was really special and the last with Arsenal was special – it was my last kick with Arsenal, and the one with Manchester City was something quite special as well.”

Though there were no late additions in the transfer window – former Arsenal forward Luke Plange has been immediately loaned back to Derby after signing – Palace’s numbers have been swelled during the break in action.

Wilfried Zaha has returned from the Africa Cup of Nations while James Tomkins and James McArthur are back in training after injury.

Vieira said neither Zaha nor McArthur would come straight into the reckoning on Saturday, but said the return of his vice-captain – out with injury since November – was a welcome sight.

“James is a really important player for us on and off the field,” Vieira said. “He’s got that experience, the strong character, he’s a competitor.

“We’ve missed him on the field and to have him back in training is good. If there are no issues he will be involved for the next game.”

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