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Is Gervinho the answer?

July 19, 2011 3 comments

To the chagrin of Arsenal fans, yesterday marked what many think was the first real signing of the summer transfer period for our beloved club. Yes, we picked up Jenkinson and Ryo, but it’s safe to say even with good performances in Asia, both are young and unproven. We have been craving a signing that has already played professionally for a measure of time; a difference maker to put us back into an era of trophies. But is Gervinho the one to do this for us? All of us have asked it, and for the real answer we will have to wait until mid-August. But for now we can only look back on what he has done and what we have as a squad, and contemplate.

The most well-known statistic being thrown around by optimists and pessimists alike is his 15 goals and 10 assists in Ligue 1 play this past season. According to the Ligue 1 site, that was an average of a goal every 190 minutes (about a goal every two games). Not a bad season at all by most standards. But while Ligue 1 isn’t a bad league, the EPL will be a much different experience for him. I don’t think you can expect him realistically to put up the same numbers in 2011/12 that he did in France this past season. And unfortunately for him, that is what a lot of the Arsenal faithful is expecting. Now to make things clear, I am hopeful the Frenchman can come in and dazzle us. I want to get that pang of adrenaline every time he gets a touch because we know he could do something special. I’m just not sure that is going to happen. I think to get a view of where Gervinho may or may not fall short, you have to look beyond the stats. His traits more than his numbers may decide what he does this season. So let’s take a look.

Gervinho is known to have some slick moves and plenty of pace. Check one for the optimists. Arsenal needs someone to take on a defender one on one and create some chances. Yes it’s risky play, but at this point I am prepared to accept some risk. His pace makes me want to put him on the wing. I can picture him and Theo bursting down the wings and setting up RvP. Nasri has his moments with ball skill but not quite the pace that can really put a team in trouble. No offense to him. His finishing ability far surpasses Theo, who still has a lot to prove as far as being a forward goes, but he really dropped off his productivity after the new year and the whole transfer saga is creating doubt. So pace and skill are two things greatly needed. But where Gervinho may struggle is also his ball skill. He has some nice moves, but at times it looks like he gets a bit out of control, and I keep wondering if he will get put on his arse by a physical defender. He is going to have to fight to keep the ball and learn to play a more physical game. That is where I see the biggest question mark lies. But there is one more that pulls at me still, and yes it’s a stat, his shots and chances. Gervinho hit the target on 47% of his shots last season. That is behind a 52% mark for a struggling shooter in Theo Walcott, 58% for RvP, and 77% for Nasri. He doesn’t convert chances as well as I would hope. A man with the creation ability he may possess needs to finish or we are going to have a bunch more head in hands moments like last season.

So to answer the question, is Gervinho the answer? At this point unfortunately I have to say no. I am hopeful, but I see him being a depth player when Nasri or Theo need a break on the wings. I recently saw this quote by Gervinho via ESPN Soccernet, “Do not compare me to [Marouane] Chamakh. I’m going to Arsenal to play and be in the action. I’m not going there to sit on bench.” If people are comparing him to Chamakh he has quite a ways to go before he plays any amount. But for now I am going to follow the rumors, speculate with the rest, and hope that somehow this transfer window proves to be important for us going forward. I am looking forward to sharing the new season with you all, and Arsenal ‘Til I Die!

Photo Source: Shazhell

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