Patrick Vieira can’t believe he’s last Arsenal captain to win league as he bids to derail former club’s top-four hopes
PATRICK VIEIRA is staggered he is the last Arsenal captain to lift the Premier League title.
And the Crystal Palace boss has reminded his old club that Champions League football should now be the priority – because challenging at the top is harder than ever.
Gunners legend Vieira, 45, was skipper of the Invincibles side of 2004 that went unbeaten in the league to lift their third Prem title in six years.
Yet 18 years on and there are no signs that will be repeated any time soon – something that the Frenchman discusses with old teammates and pals Thierry Henry, Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp on a regular basis.
Asked if he would have believed back in 2004 that Arsenal would not lift another league title for almost two decades, Vieira admitted: “Not really, because during that period of time I thought Arsenal would be challenging more for the titles.”
And asked how far away they are, Vieira continued: “I don’t know. Now, maybe it is more competitive with Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea.
“You look at the spending of those teams and that has to be part of it if you want to challenge for the title.
“I don’t know what Arsenal are prepared to do but of course the possibility to do it is there.
“There is a cycle where City were the team and now there is Liverpool and Chelsea.
“Manchester United I believe they will be there to challenge so there are five teams capable of winning the Premier League.
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“It is important for Arsenal to get to the Champions League because of the stature of the football club.”
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal can tighten their grip on fourth spot by beating Vieira’s Eagles at Selhurst Park tonight – a seventh win in their last eight games.
Arteta’s side have been criticised in recent weeks for ‘over celebrating’ victories – in particular by several pundits.
When asked about this, Vieira smiled: “Pundits? I hope that it is not a problem to celebrate when you win a game, it should never be enough or too much, it is just a celebration.”