Can the real Gervinho please stand up?
Gervinho is one player who can inspire and exasperate in equal measure, especially when in the red and white of Arsenal. Signed for 10 Million pounds from Lille, Gervinho arrived on the back of a fairly impressive campaign, scoring 18 goals in all competitions in France: a statistic that beat the then ‘Ligue 1 player of the year’ (and team mate), Eden hazard.
He then moved to arsenal and on his debut scored a wonderful brace. His first a well lobbed ball above the Koln keeper; a goal that turned back the clock to the days Pires would thrill Highbury in similar fashion.
He began last season on the same stride, his electric pace and dazzling dribbling sending the Emirates faithful into animated frenzies. He bagged four goals and four assists before he departed for the Africa Cup of Nations in January. There he continued his red hot form, even scoring a goal – against Mali in the semi-final – which Messi would have been proud of. He picked the ball on the halfway line, nut-megged a Mali player and dribbled all the way to the goal, and scored (watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UPGTA0rJ6M). Fantastic stuff.
In the final he continued his form, being a constant thorn in the side of the Zambian national team with his pace and trickery. Unfortunately for him, the game went on to a penalty shoot-out where he missed a crucial spot kick, handing Zambia the crown. This was the turning point because the Gervinho that left for the AFCON wasn’t the one that returned to London. He would misplace passes, lose possession, waste clear cut chances, dribble his way into trouble, and generally frustrate the Arsenal faithful.
Luckily for him, Arsenal were in inspired form at that point, with the mercurial Dutchman at the helm of the team’s success. He never regained the form that had endeared him to the fans, and by the end of season they were calling for his head.
Fast forward to the beginning of this season, and the Gervinho of old seemed to have returned. He finished the pre-season as the top scorer, putting in inspiring performances that turned out to be one of the few positives in a time when our talisman left us for one of our fiercest rivals.
The domestic league began and his fantastic performances, coupled with the poor ones of new signing Olivier Giroud, earned him a starting place up front; ahead of Theo and Poldi. He scored 5 goals, epitomized by a brace against premier league newcomers Southampton in a game that saw Arsenal put 6 past them.
However, his wasteful side reared its ugly head again. He missed a sitter against Man City after being put clear by Ramsey: a miss that ultimately cost arsenal 2 points. His form quickly died out and (again) he was wasting chance after chance, and his departure to this year’s AFCON came as a breath of fresh air to most Gooners. Some are even hoping that Ivory Coast will get to the final, so as to keep him out of the side for as long as possible.
What really puzzles me about him is that when he dons the Ivory Coast jersey, he turns into this breath taking winger whose dribbles are purposeful and amazing, scoring goals for fun. Believe it or not, lately Gervinho has become more prolific for them than (dare I say it) Didier Drogba. Case in point, so far he has scored twice for them (one in a warm up match and one in their opening game against Togo). The one against Togo was a terrific finish the Arsenal contingent dream of seeing (watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8vHtuiu0hA).
However when he plays for Arsenal he is the ultimate embodiment of inconsistency, a trait which has seen most fans turn against him. Some say that he just isn’t good enough; others believe that the pressures of playing in the world’s toughest league eventually got to him.
Whatever the case, Gervinho has managed to step on the nerves of many with his inconsistent and unpredictable performances. He has claimed that he wants to be Arsenal’s new Robert Pires, and maybe putting that kind of pressure on himself wasn’t the best idea.
One thing is for sure, though, he better step up his game if he hopes to be playing for Arsenal for the foreseeable future. He has already lost his place to Poldi, Chamberlain, Theo and Giroud who lately are becoming more and more formidable. With the imminent acquisition of a new player, he could fall even further down the pecking order.
It is a shame because Gervinho has the potential to be the player fans envisioned him to be when they gave him a Brazilian nickname. We could continue to speculate about what is the true cause of his failings but that would be a waste of time, because ultimately only he can decide what he wants his career trajectory to be.
Most fans have written him off as an awful purchase, and soon the incredible patience Wenger is known to have WILL run out. He is 25 years old, so time is quickly running out for him to make his mark at the top level.
My advice: Wenger saw something special in him when he signed him from Lille and gave him a chance in the world’s number one league. Gervinho: TAKE IT!
Written by: Marcus – a Kenya based Gooner.