Arsene Wenger has often told the story about how he convinced the Arsenal winger Robin Van Persie to move into the centre-forward role, and Robin himself has revealed that he wasn’t sure if he had the confidence to become an out-and-out goalscorer.
Well we all know how that turned out, and now Wenger believes that the same situation is happening now with Gervinho, who has rewarded him with five goals in five games since his switch to the centre. Wenger has today revealed how this came about. He was asked if he had the idea of using Gervinho as a striker when he bought him. “Honestly, no, I did not always think he could play this role when I bought him,” said Wenger. “I thought he was a wide player but I discovered using him in training sometimes through the middle. His runs and his movement were interesting.
“Of course there was a big question mark about his finishing, but he has improved on that front.
“Sometimes the players create their own obstacle in their head and when they start to score, they think ‘oh I can score as well’. It becomes natural for them.”
Both Gervinho and Van Persie are hardly looking like a traditional English centre-forward, but Wenger obviously saw something else in their style of playing. “Let’s say at the start it was not obvious,” he said. “If you look at their frames, at their kind of play – it’s not obvious that they will be comfortable up there.
“We have all the idea of a central striker to be strong, tall, combative. To put a player in like van Persie, who was a more technical player or a player like Gervinho who is a more mobile player, you are always a bit ‘oh that doesn’t work’ when confronted with the image we have of a real centre forward. But you can only try and let the efficiency decide that.”
I have to admit that I was very dubious when Wenger first experimented with Gervinho up front, but yet again we all have to bow down to the Frenchman’s superior knowledge of his players. As usual, Arsene Knows Best!
Let’s hope Gervinho carries on his scoring spree this afternoon…..