Gervinho Has His Groove Back: Why Arsenal Forward Is Firing Again
After a promising yet frustratingly inconsistent first season at the Emirates Stadium, Gervinho has certainly started his second year in Arsenal colours with a flourish and an eye for goal. Starting in a central role in the 6-1 drubbing of Southampton, Gervinho repaid Arsene Wenger's trust with a clinical brace to dispatch the Saints.
His goal in a hard-fought Champions League opener contributed hugely to Arsenal's victory at Stade de la Mosson over Olivier Giroud's former club Montpellier, a 2-1 triumph that was marked more by a determined and stoic defensive front than any other defining factor.
So how can you analyse and define why Arsenal's Ivorian has scored three goals in a span of four days, when he scored only one more than that in his first season with the club?
One reason, more a product of circumstance than something else, is that Arsenal's attacking front this season is vastly different to that of last term. Under the leadership—both on the pitch and in the number of goals scored—of Robin van Persie, the Dutchman was Arsenal's focal point and go-to attacker for the better part of their efforts in the final third.
But this year, Arsenal are different. Arsenal are a changed, evolved beast.
With their defence currently holding strong—their resolute displays a sizable contributory factor to Arsenal's current unbeaten status—the Gunners' attackers have been free to create and score goals seemingly at whim on occasions.
Both the Southampton game and this week's Capitol One Cup clash (a 6-1 mauling of Coventry City) have undeniably seen Arsenal shine against weaker opposition. Nevertheless, their ruthlessness both in front of goal and in creating goal scoring opportunities is a refreshing sight and one to truly galvanise fans.
Who has benefited (or will benefit) most from Robin van Persie's absence?
Much of that is due to the presence of Santi Cazorla, whose vision, precise movement and unfaltering ability to provide that crucial pass or cross for his teammates have been nothing but a huge boon for his teammates and the club as a whole.
Yet it is not solely from Cazorla's presence that Arsenal's forwards are benefiting—the lack of Van Persie is seemingly to the betterment of Lukas Podolski, Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud and even Andrey Arshavin. And, of course, it gives Gervinho much more time and many more opportunities to contribute in an advanced forward role.
Tactical changes from Wenger have helped Gervinho along this path as well. Le Professeur's clever move of starting Gervinho in the centre of attack against Southampton was inspired, setting the Ivorian up nicely to score his two goals.
His attitude and mentality on the pitch has taken a turn for the better also. His early performances this campaign have been exemplary, especially when compared to the ignominious red card overshadowing his club debut.
So with Van Persie out of the picture, Gervinho has seen action both on the left flank and in the centre of Arsenal's potent front three so far this season—and while his versatility is commendable, his astute endeavours spearheading Arsenal's charges have really caught the eye.
Obviously enjoying the opportunity to link up with the likes of Cazorla and Podolski, Gervinho has demonstrated his commitment to improving in the Premier League with a return unlike what was seen from the Ivorian last season.
It can only be good for the club if Gervinho continues this excellent run of form.
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