Gervinho adapting to new role at Arsenal, but is it long-term?


Olivier Giroud's slow start has lead to the Ivorian being given a role at the head of Arsenal's formation, but is he too profligate to take this chance?

The stats don't make pretty reading: of his three shots in the match against Manchester City, Gervinho did not get one on target, he also completed only four of his twelve take-on attempts.

This is the most common criticism of Gervinho, he doesn't pass the ball enough and isn't clinical enough in front of goal. In his new false striker role for Arsenal, Gervinho has, however, netted three goals in three games.

He has also looked far more threatening than the displaced Olivier Giroud, and Arsenal's all round play has improved with him in the team. Whilst he can be prone to dribbling down blind alleys, he stays involved in the play far better than the Frenchman, and links well with the midfield and Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain out on the wings.

With the type of player Gervinho is, it is often his failings that are focussed on more than his strengths. He will lose the ball, and sometimes it seems unfathomable how he has failed to pick a pass that the rest of the stadium was screaming for, but with his skill on the ball he is a persistent threat to defences.

The ability to beat your man can create space for your teammates like no other skill can, and in running directly at the opposition Gervinho can pull whole defences out of shape. He is a bit of a luxury, which is perhaps why the role he is currently playing will suit him better than playing on the wing, as he has done previously.

There is less pressure on him to chip in defensively, with the tireless Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain tracking back, Gervinho can roam around the opponent's back line, able to break rapidly when Arsenal win the ball. Even if his dribbles are only successful a fraction of the time, the dangerous positions he is now starting from means that when they are, Arsenal will often end up with a scoring opportunity, either for the Ivorian himself, or for someone breaking from behind him.

There are few things more annoying than seeing a member of the team you are supporting fail to take advantage of a dangerous situation. When this happen several times in a game, the rage that blossoms in supporter's hearts can can reach critical levels.

Gervinho's has the undoubted ability to create this rage, but he is also a very exciting player who is a constant threat to defences for the same reason he is so frustrating - he is a box of chocolates footballer, you never quite know what you're going to get.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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