Position : Winger/Forward
Nation : Ivory Coast
2011/2012 Appearances : 37 (11 as sub)
Gervinho was one of the first signings in the trasnfer market, in August, when he was bought from French champions Lille for a fee of £11 million. He had an impressive 2010/11 campaign for the French side, scoring 18 goals, and assisting 11.
Here is a look at how Gervinho fared in his first season with Arsenal.
After a good pre-season, he had a rather inauspicious start to life in the Premier League. He made a lively debut, with some good runs, to get behind Newcastle’s defence, but one incident marred his debut. After being clipped by Barton in the penalty box, the Ivorian went down but penalty claims were rejected. Barton was furious claiming the winger had gone down too easily. Gervinho reacted and slapped Barton right across the face and was sent off. Barton escaped with only a yellow.
Gervinho played upfront in the absence of Robin van Persie, who was suspended in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier against Udinese. He put in another lively display, as Arsenal won 1-0. He missed the league losses to Liverpool and Manchester United, but played a vital role in the second leg against Udinese, assisting for van Persie’s opening goal.
He next played in the 1-1 draw in Dortmund, where he spurned a couple of chances at goal, but looked a threat on the left. He started in the strange 4-3 loss at Blackburn where he opened the scoring for the Gunners with a simple tap-in. He would go on to start against Bolton and Tottenham, where he was found in good goal scoring positions, but didn’t oblige.
He assisted van Persie in just the 28th second of the game against Sunderland, and Aaron Ramsey in the very last minute against Marseille. He put in a man of the match performance in a 3-1 win over Stoke, where he opened the scoring and assisted van Persie twice. Despite missing an easy chance against Chelsea, he quickly made up for it, by unselfishly assisting van Persie, as Arsenal won 5-3 at Stamford Bridge. He was again marauding against Marseille, though the game ended in a goalless stalemate.
He was particularly woeful against Norwich where he was guilty of throwing away the easiest of chances, though the Gunners escaped with a 2-1 win. He got a glorious chance against Dortmund as well, but his attempt to round the keeper went wrong. He came on as 68th minute sub for Ramsey in the 1-1 draw at home to Fulham, and then put in a delightful performance at Wigan, where he managed to grab a goal, after al Habsi had parried a van Persie shot. He started against Everton, Manchester City and Aston Villa, where he cut a frustrating figure in front of goal, but always looked to create chances for others.
He scored in the 8th minute against Wolves, after being put through by Yossi Benayoun. Despite his creativity, Arsenal were kept out by an inspired Wayne Hennessey. He missed a glaring chance to put Arsenal 2-0 ahead against QPR, after coming on as a sub. His last game before he was off for the African Cup of Nations was against Fulham, where Arsenal lost 2-1, but he was the most creative of all of Arsenal’s players on the night.
Gervinho had the heartbreaking moment of missing a penalty in the penalty shootout, in the final of the Cup of Nations, which led to Zambia winning the title.
He would return in the 2-0 loss to Sunderland in the FA Cup, where he looked lively, but tired. He next played as late subs in wins over Liverpool and Tottenham. Injuries to Arteta, Benayoun, Ramsey and Diaby meant Gervinho started in the second leg against Milan, in a youthful midfield, as Arsenal looked to overturn a 4 goal deficit. Despite an industrious performance, where he almost assisted for Arsenal’s 4th goal, the Gunners were knocked out despite winning 3-0.
He came on as a late sub, against Newcastle, where he missed yet another great chance, though Arsenal won 2-1 right at the death. After being a sub in the 1-0 win over Everton, he started against Aston Villa where he put in a decent display, slowly showing signs of regaining his confidence. He went on to be subs in losses to QPR and Wigan, and missed the games against Manchester City and Wolves. He replaced an injured Theo Walcott against Chelsea, but barely made a worthy cross.
He had a mixed game against Stoke, where he worked hard, but his shooting again wasn’t up to the mark. He put in a much improved display against Norwich, where he created numerous chances for the team, and switched flanks well. This was the same case against West Brom, in the final game of the season as well, before he was subbed by Kieran Gibbs late on.
Here are few features of Gervinho‘s game.
1. Attack Play
Gervinho can play both as a forward and as a winger, and he has played just behind the striker, on the left side this season. He is a good dribbler, and gets past most defenders. However, his play in the final third is poor. He can get nervous too soon, give the ball away. He has missed far too many guilt edged chances this season. At this level, chances need to be put away. Needs to work on his shooting.
He is blessed with good pace, which allows him to beat defenders quickly, but he does tend to lose the ball too often. He ain’t the great header of the ball either, and his first touch often deserts him.
He can pick out spaces very well, and does tend to make good runs into open areas. He can cut in well, better than most wingers in the league.
SUMMARY AND RATING
At just 21, he felt the pressure of being thrust into the Premier League. But, despite a long enough period of settling in, he looks unsettled. The African Cup on Nations also seems to have taken a toll on him. With the arrival of Lukas Podolski, the Ivorian will have to show real signs of improvement to be a regular in the first team. He gets a 6.5.