Patrick Vieira is gearing up Crystal Palace for a busy transfer window, as his side look to reassert themselves in the Premier League ahead of a clash with Bournemouth this weekend.
The Eagles suffered a hefty loss to Fulham in their last outing and have now gone two on the trot without points either side of the mid-season World Cup break.
That has checked their momentum to a point, but with the January window looming just around the corner, Vieira is insistent they will be able to build upon the bones of their squad to ensure they get the best out of each other.
“I always believed that the team needs to be improved,” he said. “We need more players to challenge the players that we have already. We need competitiveness, which will bring the best out of the players. We may have to take some of the players out of their comfort zone. To do that, we need those kinds of challenges. The other side is whether we can do it or not. We still have a lot to improve, on and off the field.
“It’s important for us to understand where we are and how competitive this league is. If we want to improve, we have to make the right decisions to help make the team competitive.”
Opposite number Gary O’Neil was absent from his own press briefing through illness, with Cherries first team coach Tommy Elphick taking media duties in his stead.
The former Bournemouth captain acknowledged it may be him who takes to the dugout.
“He’s struggling a little bit,” Elphick said of O’Neil. “He’s been struck down with the virus, but he was still well enough to get in this morning and deliver the message to the lads. We hope he’ll be okay for the game (Saturday). As I say, he still got in and spoke to the lads this morning, so (he is) off to bed to try and get ready for (Saturday).
“I think we’ve done some great work over the break. We’ve had two tough games that we’ve learned a lot from and we’ve managed to get the boys back onto the training ground over the last couple of days.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha
The Ivory Coast man is a key performer for Palace this season, and continues to impress as he closes in on the end of his contract. His six Premier League goals is twice as many as the nearest team-mate at Selhurst Park.
Bournemouth – Kieffer Moore
The Wales international has scored three goals in his last two home Premier League games. Indeed, he’s the only Bournemouth player to score more than once at home this season, netting four of the Cherries’ nine league goals at the Vitality Stadium.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Bournemouth have won just two of their 10 Premier League games against Crystal Palace (D4 L4), winning 2-1 in both February 2016 and October 2018.
– Having won just one of their first seven Premier League games against Bournemouth (D4 L2), Crystal Palace have won each of their last three against the Cherries.
– Crystal Palace have kept a clean sheet in three of their five Premier League away games against Bournemouth – only at Leicester (4) have the Eagles recorded more shutouts on the road in the competition.
– Bournemouth have won their last two league games played on New Year’s Eve, most recently a 3-0 victory over Swansea City in 2016.
– Crystal Palace won 3-0 against Norwich in their final league game of 2021, having not won their last game in any of the previous nine calendar years (D7 L2). They last won consecutive matches between 2001 and 2003 (3).