Big G failed to have a huge impact last year. But this season is looking up for the Ivory Coast tricktician. Gervinho’s greatest strength was simply not suited to Arsenal style last season. But the new transfers and tactical changes fit perfectly into the winger’s abilities. Expect a surprisingly strong season from the Ivory Coast dynamo if all goes as it should.
Gervinho was part one of a two part plan
Gervinho’s purchase was part of an overall rebuild of the offense; a rebuild, that did not quite happen. His style of play in Lille was built on pulling defenders to the goal line and cutbacks. For those that doubt me, Arseblog touched upon this very thing with Gervinho a month or so ago when reviewing last season. All hail Arseblog. This style of play worked particularly well with Eden Hazard.
Robin van Persie, however, is more linkup play (like his hero Bergkamp) and known for his power strikes. RVP did not make a lot of runs in traffic. Even RVP’s greatest goals, while on the trot, were not in traffic runs. Before people get too excited, I’m not saying never, but compared to others, this wasn’t his approach, which is okay. He scored a lot of goals!
Podolski on the other hand, brings a new approach that favors Gervinho. Podolski played the ball well to Gibbs. Gibbs took the ball to the line then cut back to…Podolski. Podolski saw the move and made a perfect run. Even though it was an assist from Gibbs, that entire sequence could just have easily have been Gervinho. In fact, if you saw the Cologne match, Gervinho basically did just that in the second half when he scored a goal.
Last season it was a common sight to see Gervinho conclude a magical and mazy dribble on the line just outside of the posts with no where to pass. Sometimes he’d put it into the box, but no one made the run. Podolski should change that. In fact, it’s one of Podolski’s greatest strengths: his runs and clinical finish. It’s something Low the manager for Germany raves about. For defenders that are parking the bus, this new tag team can open up lanes once they get on the same wavelength. RVP and Gervinho were never going to do that.
No more Africa Cup of Nations Finally, and some might say most importantly, no more ACN. Thank god. The Ivory Coast made it to the finals last season and Gervinho was obviously gassed by the end of it. He didn’t recover until the very end of the season. But with a summer break and strong preseason, Big G is back. And we should expect more from him. (Editor’s note: as pointed out, the ACN is back with a vengeance this year with a switch to odd numbers. So at least we have him for a few months then).