Juventus midfielder Patrick Vieira returns to his old stamping ground on Tuesday night. Arsenal.com reporter Chris Harris finds out how our former captain has fared since swapping red and white for black and white.
In the pubs and bars around Highbury - not to mention the pages of Arsenal's fanzines - Patrick Vieira has been a hot topic of conversation this season.
Were Arsenal right to sell him last summer? Did they replace him adequately? If Edu had stayed, would Vieira have been missed? Would Cesc Fabregas have risen to prominence if Vieira still occupied a first-team place?
Whatever your thoughts on the above, the fact is Vieira now wears the black and white shirt of Juventus. So how has he fared in his first season with the Bianconeri? We asked Gabriele Marcotti of Corriere dello Sport for a progress report.
Gabriele, how has Vieira adapted to Serie A after so many years in the Premiership?
"He started the season very well and was immediately popular with the Juventus fans. He had a little bit of a slide around November and December and then suffered a thigh injury, but he is back in the team now. He did not play very well against Roma at the weekend but, having said that, when Patrick Vieira plays below his best he is still a giant of a man with great tactical sense."
After three years with Gilberto, Vieira now lines up alongside another Brazilian international, Emerson. How has their partnership developed?
"This is a key point. Some people were sceptical about Patrick playing alongside Emerson for the simple reason that both are holding players for their countries but are more expansive for their clubs. Gilberto used to 'sit' more than Vieira at Arsenal and Emerson also had a player like Gilberto to do some of the 'dirty work'. Their partnership looked good on paper but the question was whether these two superstars would be prepared to make sacrifices for each other and other players like Pavel Nedved, who don't do as much running. The answer is yes, and as a result Vieira has slotted in very well.
Juventus won Serie A by seven points last year. They are eight points clear this season. Did they really need to sign Vieira?
"On one hand it is tempting to say no, because you only need a hard-working player alongside Emerson and they are a dime-a-dozen, but Vieira brings real experience and presence to the Juventus team. They were a good side before Vieira signed and they are better now because they have a different dimension. It's not just about the points totals year on year."
Will the pace of Italian football suit Vieira more when he reaches his 30s?
"I think the pace of the game needs to be put into context because teams in Italy play in different ways. If a central midfielder like Vieira stays fit then it doesn't matter if he loses some pace, that is more of a problem if you are a defender or a winger. A central midfielder can stay at a high level with their understanding of the game, their positioning and passing. Vieira may not make as many runs into the box as he gets older but he will still contribute in terms of leadership and vision."
And, of course, this is Vieira's second spell in Italy after he joined at Milan as a teenager.
"Everyone was so excited about him when he was 18 and there is a common misconception that Milan looked at him and decided he wasn't good enough. At the time, back in 1995/96, there was a limit on foreign players and Milan had some pretty good ones - Weah, Desailly, Savicevic and Boban. Vieira was 18 and still made five appearances. It was a big leap of faith for Arsenal to spend a few million on Vieira back in 1996, all that money for a kid, and they deserve a lot of credit for that."Patrick Vieira's Arsenal Appearances Season Premiership Europe FA Cup League Cup Community Shield 1996/97 31 0 3 3 0 1997/98 33 2 9 2 0 1998/99 34 3 5 0 1 1999/00 30 16 2 0 1 2000/01 30 12 6 0 0 2001/02 36 11 7 0 0 2002/03 24 12 5 0 1 2003/04 29 6 5 2 1 2004/05 32 6 6 0 0 Total 279 68 48 7 4 Patrick Vieira's Arsenal Goals Season Premiership Europe FA Cup League Cup Community Shield 1996/97 2 0 0 0 0 1997/98 2 0 0 0 0 1998/99 2 0 1 0 0 1999/00 2 0 0 0 0 2000/01 6 0 1 0 0 2001/02 2 1 0 0 0 2002/03 3 1 0 0 0 2003/04 3 0 0 0 0 2004/05 6 0 1 0 0 Total 28 2 3 0 0 Patrick Vieira's Juventus stats Season Serie A Goals Champions League Goals 2005/06 25 4 6 0 Total 25 4 6 0 Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 27 Mar 2006