Expect energetic Gervinho to exceed Emirates expectations

With most of Arsenal’s pre-season talk centring around the Robin van Persie saga, not to mention the signing of Santi Cazorla – which should be announced in the next couple of days – the actual football displayed by the Gunners has somewhat sneaked under the radar.

While it’s never wise to read too far into friendlies, especially those against Asian minnows Kitchee among others, Gervinho has impressed enough for him to be firmly in Arsène Wenger’s thoughts for the new season. Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will provide sterling competition for the Ivorian winger, not to mention the (literally) left-field option of Andre Santos, but after his pre-season showing, he should be confident of his chances of a regular place.

His first season was a little tricky. After signing for Lille for roughly £10.5 million (the exact same as Thierry Henry when he joined from Juventus), hopes were high – after all, it seemed to some as if Arsène Wenger had opted for Gervinho over team-mate Eden Hazard, even though this was probably not the case.

Even so, according to experts he’d been just as impressive as Hazard in Lille’s successful title tilt, so expectations were fairly high for the new number 27. After all, he’d taken Emmanuel Eboue’s old number, so he had big shoes to fill; clown shoes to be precise.

Arsenal began the season with Gervinho as first choice left-winger, with Oxlade-Chamberlain deemed not ready, Yossi Benayoun not yet trusted, and Andrey Arshavin falling rapidly more out of favour with Arsène Wenger by the week. However, a red card on his competitive debut against Newcastle after a tussle with Joey Barton stalled Gervinho’s Arsenal career before it had even properly begun.

In and around his domestic ban, though, he began to make a good impression – he provided a vital assist for Robin van Persie in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese when the Gunners were struggling to find a way through. A goal against Blackburn after his ban ended was another high point, before he turned in arguably his best performance of the season against Stoke.

Having put the Gunners ahead early on with a smart bit of control and subsequent finish, having jinked his way into the penalty area he set up van Persie to score twice, inspiring his side to a 3-1 victory.

A woeful miss against Chelsea didn’t help his cause, but the performance surrounding it certainly did, as he helped earn his side a 5-3 win with an assist and some all-round good play. Goals against Wigan and Wolves followed, and although he didn’t score any more after that, he continued to impress intermittently with his superb dribbling skills.

As is customary with most African players though, the African Cup of Nations didn’t help his season though. Not only did it interfere with his progress with his club, missing the crucial penalty in the final clearly had a sizeable effect on the winger mentally.

Because of this, and perhaps because he still hadn’t adapted to the league fully, he struggled on occasion – at times his play was slightly timid, and the lack of final product he had at times displayed in Ligue Un was as prominent as ever.

If inconsistency was a problem in his first season though, it wasn’t in pre-season. The mazy runs were more common than ever, with several dribbles leading to chances in their numerous pre-season friendlies. A similar bit of play led to a goal for himself too, as he danced past a few Southampton defenders to fire home at St Mary’s late in a 45 minute match.

This season, Gervinho should have adapted properly to the Premier League – it often takes Premier League players to settle in 100% to English football, as Laurent Koscielny and Didier Drogba would probably attest to. With a year surrounded by the likes of Robin van Persie and coached by Arsène Wenger under his belt, there’s no doubt that he’ll have improved as a player as well.

The fundamental problems with Gervinho’s game are mostly things that can be ironed out – poor decision making, for example, will fade away the more he trains with his side and the more that he learns from those around him. His finishing still seems to need work, but practice makes perfect, and Wenger will be sure that his Ivorian wide-man is working tirelessly on his shooting.

People may mock him for the size of his forehead – sadly it doesn’t seem to help with his heading – and also focus on the errors in his game, but after a season of quiet improvement and a pre-season of showing it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to chuck Gervinho into your fantasy team.

This article first appeared on Sabotage Times

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About Sam Drew

17 year old student by day, football blogger by night

14 responses to “Expect energetic Gervinho to exceed Emirates expectations”

  1. jk says :

    The Competition on the flanks means players have to perform simple as that or your dropped that alone should improve performance!

  2. christen says :

    Have you seen almunia commercial for cheese strings on tv?
    every time he tries to stop the ball, his fingers melt like cheese.Ah!Ah!

  3. joel says :

    Gervinho has no end product.The proverbial “headless chicken” without any real ability to either cross the ball or shoot on target.He rarely looks up and I believe that “the Ox” would and should be picked to play in his stead.Arsenal should be looking to get some return on Gervinho,at this stage,whilst his value is maintained.

    • Sam Drew says :

      Shooting, fair enough, but Gervinho’s a great crosser. Those two assists for van Persie vs Stoke as I cited, and a fantastic ball into him against Norwich late on when he was shoved over in front of an open goal by Kyle Naughton, the prick. Naughton I mean. A lot of the time we have very few players in the box, so it’s understandable when crosses often go astray.

  4. tom says :

    I couldn’t agree more! I think Gervinho should be the most improved Arsenal player this season. Last year he got off to the worst possible start due to his inexperience , Joey Burton’s self righteous arrogance and English referees ineptitude . He lost his confidence before the campaign began proper

  5. udehsam says :

    Gervinho will prove people wrong this season. that guy is a gem!!!

  6. eric omagu says :

    Yeah, is obvious that he got some build up and addition skills, strenght and pace in him during the tour. I expect that, knowing that he has conpititors on his department. I agree on his poor decitions most time, who ever that is responsible should help him work on his focus, inteligent run with ball and passes. I see very clearly that he add preasue to himsfe runing from the flanks. Surely. If he aviod this and make some inprovement, he will be outstanding this season.

  7. abazzonpoint says :

    The truth is that Gervinho is naturally rusty. There is nothing that can be done to change him.

  8. Ang Kee Ming says :

    poor decision making can be improved? I thought decision making comes from intelligence, which surely cant be taught. case in point. Walcott as winger. Walcott as striker could be deadly though.

    • Sam Drew says :

      I can’t disagree enough. With repetitive training it can be drilled into players so that they do the right thing almost robotically in different situations. I don’t think intelligence is something you either have or you don’t.

  9. Iredia juninho. says :

    Gervinho is a great but he needs to improve on his finishing.

  10. Iredia juninho. says :

    Gervinho it is well with u.

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