Arsene Wenger said the other day something along the lines of ‘Gervinho has been the best striker in the Africa Cup of Nations’. A fair point. But gone are the days in Africa where the continent had a handful of quality strikers to choose from, Eto, Drogba and Martens to name a few. All of whom have scored goals where ever they have been. The Africa Cup of Nations seems to have dipped in quality the last few years and is no longer showcasing the talents of power house strikers with the ability to change a game with in an instance. So the point Wenger makes falls largely on its face, ask any Arsenal fan and that is all Gervinho tends to do. So with his return to Arsenal imminent, where does Gervinho now stand in the pecking order for Arsenal FC?
Gervinho had a bright start to the season; he grabbed a few goals in the Premier League, one important one against Chelsea to draw the teams level. He was deployed as a striker often marauding in the same channels a certain Thierry Henry used to do on a regular basis. That is about as far as the similarities go. Thierry Henry used to drift to the left, drift offside, shrug his shoulder for 75 minutes of a game. But if you watch him carefully he was always tricking the defender into thinking he was in the pocket and having a quiet day, then when the time was right, a quick incisive break, he would come to life and explode using his skill, speed and composure to gently cushion the ball around the keeper. Gervinho really is a pale imitation of Thierry Henry. He seems to amble across the pitch, not really knowing how to work the defence, bizarrely finding himself in some space, beat the defender, and just as the stadium gets excited, decides to stop turn around and try and beat the defender again. Countless times Arsenal fans have seen him through on goal only to pick out the wrong option, dribble himself into a blind alley, hit a powder puff shot, or just fall over. Gevinho is one of the most infuriating players at Arsenal Football Club and sums up much of the current Arsenal team. Not good enough to help them win a trophy.
Where does he stand on his return? Well quite frankly, he won’t stand or run anywhere hopefully. With the front 3 of Arsenal seemingly to have found some form and appears to be well balanced. You have the strength and size of Giroud to hold up the ball and a target to aim for in the box. The pace of Theo and his new found finishing ability. The shot and brain of Podolski who, given the right chance always selects the right option in the final third. If any were to become injured then the OX is a more than capable reserve, with Theo or Podolski being able to fill the hole vacated by Giroud. Jack Wilshere also offers options in the whole behind the striker with the chance to push Carzorla wide. All of these players have had better seasons than Gervinho offer much more on the pitch.
Often players come back from Africa exhausted and never hit the heights before they left, so I for one am not expecting any fireworks from Gervinho upon his return. He has been tried on the left, the right, centrally, all of which haven’t worked. He is the kind of player who will score goals, perhaps 7-8 a season against relatively poor opposition, but he doesn’t off much else. He slows down attacks, never tracks back, and falls over far too easily. A frustrating Wenger signing, in very occasional patches he has shown some quality, unfortunately though this has been on all too few occasions. Players have established themselves ahead of him in the pecking order and performed when needed too. Gervinho will have to wait his turn when injury strikes or be moved on back to France.
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