Arsenal are currently on a plane, likely somewhere over rural Russia. That’s a very vague statement, because most of Russia is rural and middle of nowhere. As Arsenal make their way back, I have decided who is the most exciting pre-season player for Arsenal (yes I know there is a match left to go versus Köln). The decision was relatively simple, Gervinho.
In principle a lot of you are rolling your eyes. “There’s Morgan, he’s completely lost the plot, he’s crazier than Craig Bellamy with a 5-iron!” Well hear me out.
Gervinho’s movement has been quite spectacular. He has shown pace, control and precision. Look at Southampton. He cut down his wing, angled towards the near post on the touchline. Then he cuts it back and sells three defenders on the move. He gestures a rolling cross to the spot, eyes up the far post and shoots. He did get a little luck, but in she goes.
The Malaysia XI squad could not close him down. Six successful dribbles, two tackles, and one shot on net were his key statistics. Compared to what he showed us last year, this is a little better on the average.
Okay, weaker opposition, but keep in mind that Gervinho had not had that much time on the pitch. So bring on Man Schitty. Ask Savic, Toure, and Zabaleta how much they liked going up against Gervinho. Zabaleta played further up the pitch to try to avoid him, how do you think he was up there to score that goal, why to get away from Gervinho of course. Toure’s best moment of the game? Blocking a Gervinho shot, closely followed by Gervinho getting subbed off. Watch the highlights and look at the relief on the face of Kolo Toure. The Toure brothers know what Gervinho is about. My French is rather rancid, but I was told that they sang Gervinho’s praises.
Gervinho saved his best for last against Kitchee. This time he adapted the dribbled against Southampton to split three defenders and a goalie to thread the ball to Eisfeld for the match-tying goal. What a run, what control, and what guile to cut it back like that. His composure in close quarters is noticeably better.
Could it be that Gervinho is feeling the pressure of new signings and is trying to prove himself? Could it be that competition in the squad is finally a benefit to strikers and forwards at Arsenal? Long have we talked about the benefit of competition for places, but rarely have we seen it at this level. Gervinho’s recent performances have served notice that he is settled, and he wants a place at the table when Wenger is passing out the milk and cookies.
I’m starting to salivate, time for a beverage.
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