Patrick Vieira was no stranger to success in the Emirates FA Cup during his time a player, winning the competition four times during his days with Arsenal.
He’s now four games deep into his first FA Cup campaign as a manager and one step away from the Final, as he takes his Crystal Palace side into a semi-final clash with Chelsea at Wembley on Easter Sunday.
And the Frenchman admits the magic of the Cup is something which has remained with him since his first taste of it as a young player in his first year with Arsenal in 1996-97.
- The Emirates FA Cup semi-final
- 4.30pm, Sunday 17 April 2022
- Wembley Stadium connected by EE
- Live on ITV
“It wasn’t until I first came to England that I really began to understand the passion and the love that people here have for the competition,” explained Vieira in his programme notes for the game.
“It’s a very special tournament and I think that never changes, because you never know what will happen.
“I think we’ve seen that in this year’s competition, so to be one step away from the Final is exciting for us all.
“Of course, playing Chelsea is a London derby against a team that has won the Champions League and, like any team we come up against, they’re a side we’ve got a lot of respect for.
“But when you’re out there on the field, we want to play, we want to compete and we want to win football matches. It’s going to be challenging but I think this is a cup run that has thrown up challenges in every round.”
In a unique twist, Palace haven’t had to leave their native south London during this season’s competition, making the short trip to Millwall in the third round before subsequent home ties against Hartlepool United, Stoke City and Everton.
They now head north of the river to Wembley for the semi-final, where they will hope to seal a spot in the Cup Final for the first time since 2016.
“When you get into the latter stages, you’re that one step closer to Wembley but, for us, as it has been all season, we’ve been taking it one game at a time,” added Vieira.
“We’re ambitious, we knew that we wanted to go as far as we possibly could but we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves.
“It’s all about treating every game the same way – we didn’t do more or less preparation for any of the matches that have got us to this point.
“At the moment we’re on a good run and we’ve got some good momentum. We’re not just getting results, we’re playing very well too and that’s what you want going into a game of this magnitude.”
You can read Patrick’s full set of notes in the match programme, which is available to order now.