Roma's winning streak is over. For the first 10 Serie A games, they were infallible, invincible, but Torino cracked the code and secured a 1-1 draw Sunday courtesy of yet another Alessio Cerci strike.
The historic run was showing signs of drawing to a close with the 1-0 victory over Chievo—the 10th and record-breaking three-point haul—a stumbling, bumbling effort.
Rudi Garcia has a strong XI and some good depth options, but this is not the sort of squad cut out to handle double Serie A gameweeks under the intense spotlight of expectancy and scrutiny.
A reliance on Francesco Totti became clear when the timeless artist exited the Napoli match early clutching his hamstring, with Marco Borriello coming in to take the reins and lead in a different style from the front.
That night against the Partenopei was also the last time we saw Gervinho take to the field, and it's arguable the Ivorian has been missed just as much as il Re de Roma—quite the testament to the job Garcia has done in turning the former Arsenal man's career around.
The Gervinho we see in the 2013-14 season is a far cry from the man who frustrated the Emirates Stadium on a weekly basis, consistently making the wrong choices in the final third and offering very little in terms of final product.
His key passes are up (1.3 as opposed 0.8), and his dribbling has improved vastly, taking the likes of Internazionale and Bologna apart, Andros Townsend-style.
What's the secret?
Gervinho is a confidence player, like many wingers and strikers, so Garcia has set about rebuilding what was essentially a shell of a footballer who had arrived unwanted, unimpressive and on the cheap.
The same 4-3-3 is being played at the Stadio Olimpico as it was at Lille—the scene of Garcia and Gervinho's first involvement together at a football club.
During his time in France, he garnered a reputation for electric pace and an eye for goal, and Arsenal thought they'd landed a man who could stretch the pitch (horizontally and vertically), tee up others and haul in 10 for himself.
That Gervinho never materialised in London, but he has in Rome; with three goals and one assist from six appearances in Garcia's familiar 4-3-3 formation, only injury has kept him from impacting further.
Playing off Totti can make anyone look good, but it's the way in which Gervinho is now using his striker to create space to run into and commit defenders to chopping him down. Garcia's system unlocks his explosiveness—something he rarely got to show at Arsenal on a consistent basis.
There's more to come from the Ivorian once he returns from injury, and he can boost a Roma side that will, if anything, come under yet more scrutiny now that they've finally failed to win a game.
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