Arsenal’s progress under Mikel Arteta is no surprise to Patrick Vieira

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira says he is not surprised by Arsenal’s progression under Mikel Arteta this season.

The Gunners head to Selhurst Park on Monday night harbouring strong ambitions of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

With six victories from their last seven outings, Arsenal are fourth in the Premier League table.

Arteta’s men hold a three-point buffer to fifth-placed Tottenham, having played a game fewer than their north London rivals.

“I’m not surprised about the way they’re playing and the way they’re progressing,” said Vieira, who won three league titles with the Gunners.

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“They have a good squad, a good manager and they have a clear idea about how they want to play the game.

“Mikel went through a difficult period but he managed to keep his calm and his cool. All credit to him, and the work he has been doing and the results he has had lately have been really positive.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence and that confidence is a massive difference. It will be challenging for us but we’re in a really good period, too.”

Palace, 12th in the division, held Manchester City to a goalless draw at Selhurst Park last month and only lost to Chelsea in February following Hakim Ziyech’s 89th-minute winner.

Vieira added: “These are the really exciting games to be a part of, especially at home with the fans.

“The support we’ve had at home has been fantastic, and we’ve shown a lot of character and good spirit, when we’ve played against the bigger teams.

“Hopefully Monday will be another one of those games where we can perform.”

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Vieira is sweating on the fitness of star man Wilfried Zaha after he sustained a hamstring injury while away with the Ivory Coast.

Michael Olise is also a doubt after he was forced to withdraw from France’s Under-21 squad with a foot problem.

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