Gunners old boys Arteta and Vieira clash as Palace and Arsenal kick off Premier League

Rival managers both played under Arsene Wenger and, if the Spaniard slips up at the Emirates, the Frenchman may be favourite to replace him

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, right, and his Crystal Palace counterpart Patrick Vieira lock horns on Friday in the opening match of the 2022/23 Premier League season. Getty Images
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Arsenal allowed a documentary crew to peer behind the scenes last season. Clubs who assume they have a global status do so more and more willingly, although managers tend to be lukewarm about the invasion of privacy.

It remains to be seen whether Mikel Arteta’s reputation has benefited from the exposure of his methods and temperament in the newly released "All or Nothing" Amazon production.

Arteta is not short of ideas, or innovative motivational quirks like arranging for the sound of an Anfield crowd bellowing out You’ll Never Walk Alone to be played at Arsenal practice ahead of a trip to Liverpool.

In the documentary, some players seemed roused by the idea. They still lost 4-0 once they reached the atmospheric home of Liverpool, where Arteta would be involved in a furious touchline altercation with his counterpart Jurgen Klopp.

Few coaches square up to Klopp without feeling a degree of intimidation. As with 15 other managers embarking on the new Premier League campaign, which begins on Friday with Arsenal’s trip to Crystal Palace, Arteta would be forgiven a sense of awe as he eyes the medals and experience concentrated among Klopp and the other three experts in charge of last season’s top-four Premier League clubs.

Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, Klopp and Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel have all won European Cups as head coaches. No other manager in England’s top flight has. Tottenham Hotspur’s Antonio Conte, embarking on his first full season in charge of Spurs, has won leagues with all three of the clubs he has managed within the past 10 years and it has never taken him longer than two seasons at any of them to finish top of the table.

Below that quartet, the major medals are spread far more thinly, and for none of the clutch of younger, start-of-career managers in the Premier League is there a greater awareness of the shadow of past masters than at Arsenal and Palace.

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Arteta, two and half seasons into his first senior coaching job, is already Arsenal’s longest-serving manager since Arsene Wenger’s 22 years in charge came to an end in 2018. Palace’s Patrick Vieira, entering his second season as a Premier League boss, followed Roy Hodgson, whose career has spanned 22 clubs in eight different countries.

Both can feel confident of the faith their employers hold in them and also will be aware that they will be measured against one other. Both are in their 40s, both were admired midfielders. They share a schooling. Vieira played, commandingly, for Arsenal during some of the best Wenger years. Arteta was in Arsenal’s midfield when times turned tougher under Wenger.

Both served coaching apprenticeships within the Manchester City set-up. Both were interviewed by Arsenal during the search for Wenger’s successor, and again when Arteta was chosen ahead of Vieira to replace Unai Emery.

Both can come across as guarded in public, but each has had his explosive moments when the pent-up pressures and emotions of the Premier League pierce the armour.

There was Arteta at Anfield last October; there was Vieira lashing out at an Everton supporter who had invaded the pitch at Goodison Park last May and repeatedly taunted the Palace manager.

Vieira showed some frustration on his first return, as a manager, to Arsenal, last season, slamming his palms on the turf after a 2-2 draw.

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He was justified in feeling his Palace had deserved all three points. They certainly did in defeating Arsenal 3-0 at Selhurst Park in April, a result that loosened Arteta’s grip on a top-four finish, and ushered in a poor end of season, allowing Conte’s Spurs to claim a Champions League berth instead of Arsenal.

That was a setback for Arteta, who made some bold decisions in the preceding months, casting out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, his leading scorer, and Willian, both of them senior players on big contracts.

Like Vieira, who has pushed opportunity the way of the likes of Michael Olise at Palace, Arteta’s promotion of younger players gained plaudits.

Arteta has been backed in the transfer market, £75 million spent on the striker Gabriel Jesus and the versatile Oleksandr Zinchenko, two players Arteta worked with while he was Guardiola’s assistant at City.

“We have changed the squad,” Arteta acknowledged. “The players we have now are specific, and better, to the way we want to play.”

That leaves little room for excuses. If the way Arteta wants to play falls short of a target that must include a top-four challenge, and Vieira continues to burnish his reputation at Palace, it will not take long for Arsenal loyalists to wonder out loud if the club chose the wrong former midfielder as manager.

Updated: August 05, 2022, 3:59 AM
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