Why Gervinho is responsible for van Persie’s scoring spree

by Spurs Fanatic

Gervinho doesn’t seem to be getting much credit, but Robin van Persie’s form has taken off since he came back in to the side. The Ivorian, who was suspended for three of the first four Premier League games, watched Arsenal struggle from the stands, but since he has come back in to the team, van Persie has flourished and the play of Gervinho is the reason.

Gervinho was a set-up man at Lille

Gervinho signed for Arsenal in a £10.7 million deal this summer with a reputation of assisting on as many goals as he scored. The Ivorian netted 15 goals in France’s top tier last term and provided 11 assists, as he helped Lille to a league and cup double. It is that attitude which he has brought to Arsenal and already it’s paying dividends in his partnership with Robin van Persie.

Early suspension delayed Gervinho’s real start to the season

Gervinho had a tough start to the season. He started brightly against Newcastle and then was the victim of a harsh red card after a tangle with Joey Barton. He had to sit out the next three Premier League matches and Arsenal struggled as a result. In these first four games, the Gunners only managed to secure 4 points and van Persie only one goal, which came in the 8-2 blowout at Old Trafford.

However, since returning against Blackburn six games ago, Gervinho has been at the top of his game. He has provided four assists, all to Robin van Persie, who has scored 9 goals in the same six game span. A sign their partnership is beginning to click and Gervinho is fuelling Robin’s recent resurgence.

So far this season, Gervinho leads all forwards in assists and has 9 key passes in his seven Premier League appearances. He likes to get at defenders and has 11 successful dribbles, as he drives in to the box and cuts the ball back with short passes. This could be seen when he set up both van Persie goals at home to Sunderland, and also when he created the first for the Dutchman against Chelsea:

The left hand chart shows Gervinho’s two assists (white lines) both for van Persie goals against Stoke. On each occasion, the Ivorian got in to the box, drawing defenders, before cutting the ball sqaure to the open attacker – each time it was van Persie.

The right hand chart again shows Gervinho cutting the ball square for van Persie to score against Chelsea (white line), after he had broken in to the box. On this occasion Peter Cech came rushing off his line, but rather than take the Chelsea keeper on, the unselfish Gervinho squared the ball for van Persie to tap in to the empty net.

Gervinho likes to get in to the 18-yard area and look to set up the open man. He is a different style of attacker who has a pass first; shoot second mentality, as he tries to get the ball to a teammate in a better position to score. In seven games for the Gunners, he has taken just 13 shots, 7 of which have been on target, resulting in two goals.

Arsenal play to Gervinho’s side

Since his return, Arsenal are definitely playing more to Gervinho’s side of the field. Mikel Arteta (81), Aaron Ramsey (87) and Alex Song (74) are getting the bulk of the touches in the centre of midfield, but Gervinho (44) on the left is receiving more touches of the ball than Walcott (36) on the right.

It’s not just touches Gervinho is getting, he is also making more passes, creating more chances through key passes, and taking more shots than Theo Walcott on the opposite flank:
.

Gervinho
(per game)

Walcott
(per game)

Touches

44.1

36.2

Passes

27.1

20.4

Key Passes

1.3

0.7

Assists

0.6

0.1

Total Shots

1.9

1.6

Shots on Target

1.0

1.0

Goals

0.3

0.2

.
Gervinho is not only seeing the ball more than Walcott on the opposite flank, he is also doing more with it by making key passes to create chances and generate assists.

All four of Gervinho’s assists so far in the Premier League have been to Robin van Persie. The Dutchman’s goals have given critics the opportunity to claim Arsenal are a one-man team, but despite van Persie being there to finish off Arsenal attacks, Gervinho’s contribution seems to have gone unnoticed.

The Ivorian is starting to strike up a real understanding with van Persie, and while the Dutchman may be grabbing the headlines, Gervinho is quietly making his own significant impact.

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