Written by Joseph Minde @jose_the_gooner
Gervinho or “The Forehead” as he is affectionately called is arguably Arsenal’s most productive and improved player this season. The statistics do not lie; he has bagged five goals and one assist already, surpassing his goal tally for last season. However watch him in a game and it will tell a whole other story.
He can mix the spectacular and the stupid all in one move. He performs the impossible only to do something infuriating in the same game. In other words, our dear “Forehead” is impossible to understand. He belongs to two extremes; one which will make you shout “Amazing…” in one breathe and call him an “Arse…” in another. As a result it is only natural to hear yourself yelling after a Gervinho game saying “Y U NO MAKE UP UR MIND?” If you are going to play like you are Chamakh with a slightly worse hairstyle do so or if you are going to play like Henry’s African twin brother then please do so. So we must then ask the question about Gervinho that is possibly just as baffling as the question about his forehead. Is Gervais Yao Kouassi worth it? Will he come good and be consistent?
Yao comes from Abidjan in the Ivory Coast where he came through the famous ASEC Abidjan youth academy, which also produced our now retired club comedian Emmanuel Eboue. While there he earned the nickname, which is popularly used to refer to him, “Gervinho”. It was given to him by trainer Joel Gustavo, with some saying it was given to him because there was another Gervais in the ranks, while others say it was because of his silky Brazilian skills. The inner optimist in me, or rather the “little boy in me” thinks it’s the latter. Fast Forward a while later and Gervinho was making a name for himself at Lille even outshining “the best player in the world” Eden Hazard. In his last season there he managed to get 15 goals and 11 assists, which is no mean feat. The YouTube videos painted an even better picture of him, a fast, skillful and determined winger with an eye for goal and the wit to outclass an opponent.
He moved to London and we would be foolish to deny that we have not seen those same traits ourselves. Gervinho is amazingly fast, I would go as far as to say his acceleration is on par with Walcott’s. As Le Proff said after the “First 5 yards” there is no defender who can catch up to Gervinho. He is also a really, really, really good dribbler, who on his day can torment any defender. This is most likely because he can change direction so quickly. Furthermore Gervinho’s movement is just as excellent, constantly troubling defenders and opening up space. But perhaps one of Gervinho’s greatest attributes is his insistence to always keep trying, even if he has failed all day. Call it having a good attitude or great confidence, but it really is admirable. There is nothing more infuriating than a winger 1v1 with a defender and deciding to pass the ball back. With Gervinho though, that is a rarity he always looks to take on his man.
Okay enough “Ass kissing” you must be thinking, or possibly “Forehead kissing” in this case. Now I will refer to a story told by Ben Lyttleton recently to sum up Gervinho’s “enigmability”; There used to be a brilliant feature on French TV station Canal Plus a few years back called “Our House.” A presenter would knock on a player’s front door, and get a tour of their house. When Gervinho was at Le Mans, back in 2007, he allowed the cameras in and I still remember him pointing at a DVD that was on his front table and saying to the presenter, “That’s a good film.” She said, “What’s it about?” He replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t seen it yet.” That for me is a perfect example of Gervinho on the football pitch. He does not seem to think before he says or does something, which is a bonus when it works out but is ugly when it does not. Examples of this include Gervinho’s first ever game when a certain Joey Barton provoked him into slapping and Gervinho, rather foolishly accepted the bait. That’s long ago you say. Well how about what happened against West Ham on Saturday, where Gervinho clearly frustrated at his lack of involvement in the game made a silly and unnecessary tackle, earning him a yellow card?
Therefore it is really impossible to say if this Wenger experiment will work out. It is much like Gervinho himself, it could turn out to be a beautiful or ugly. Are the goals and assists he is getting worth the trouble? For now the answer would seem yes. He is annoying and impossible to pin down but at the end of the day it is goals and productivity that define a player. Just like points at the end of a day define who wins the title. If beautiful football defined titles, might I go as far as saying a certain team in North London would be the most successful in history? So be patient, I say, and one day, hopefully, this Gervinho story will have a happy ending.
Written by Joseph Minde @jose_the_gooner------------
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