Morning all and welcome to the middle of the week, made all the more easy by that lovely thing known as a bank holiday.
Before I launch into the second part of my ‘Stepping Up’ campaign, I thought I’d pay a quick tribute to our new number two (stop sniggering at the back), Steven Bould. You might remember him from such appearances in the heart of the Arsenal defence in the early nineties. But latterly, he has been focused on the Arsenal youth team, nurturing the under 18s through the ranks and for some, into the first team. I for one welcome the appointment with open arms. It gives us the continuity of the existing set up, but hopefully also the experience of a wily old fox of a central defender who never had a problem sticking his head where it hurt. Hopefully he can transmit that to the existing first team.
We bid a fond farewell to Pat Rice and say thank you for the efforts – come rain or shine, old Pat was there with his shorts and his shouty Irishness. Thanks Pat.
Now, on to all things ‘Step-Up-O-Meter’ related, and today’s instalment sees a close up look at one of our summer signings. The one that was actually done with time to spare – that certainly narrows it down, doesn’t it?
Yes, you guessed it, I’m talking about our sole surviving Ivorian: Gervhino. The only man who has a forehead the size of the Holloway Road and yet still doesn’t use it to bang in the goals. Where as yesterday’s blog was written having seen a player mature and still need a little fine-tuning to reach his potential, today’s blog is more on a player that it’s safe to say is still in the ‘adapting to the English game’ phase of his career. Signed for just over £10million during the summer, the winger showed us a glimpse of his ability after only a few minutes against Cologne in pre-season, bashing in two first half goals to get us all excited that we had found a winger that would start to contribute to the goals as well. His direct style and quick turn of pace had us all salivating of the prospect of him linking up with RvP and Theo and gave me thoughts of the wonderful counter-attacking sides that had become Wenger’s trademark in the first years of his reign at Arsenal.
Alas, the season has not bore as many goal-fruits for Gervhino. Having shown glimpses of pace and good running, he has at times looked like he does not always have the beating of his man. In addition, his finishing has been questioned on a number of occasions, the most notable of which being an away trip to Norwich, when a Venky’s chicken had more success on the pitch than Forehead McGraw did that day.
The most frustrating thing about Gervhino is that we have all seen what he can do. Like Theo, at times he has been able to finish like it is the most natural thing in the world (Wolves at home being a classic example), yet at times I’ve left myself wondering if his feet are made of sand.
But whilst his faults have left us rueing his profligacy at times, I cannot bring myself to score Gervhino too highly on the ‘Step-Up-O-Meter’ purely on the basis that this is his first season. Much like Song in his early days, and like Koscienly last season, Gervhino is still learning the English way. Kos was lambasted by gooners this time last year, but is now hailed as a master stroke of a signing. On that basis I can’t think that Gervhino has Chamakh’d his Arsenal career up. He needs another season before we start to judge his ability. That said, it has still been disappointing to see him fall away since the African Cup Of Nations and right now, when we need all of our attacking players to be at their best he has been found wanting.
So my score? A five out of ten for Mr Forehead. I’ll happily reconsider if he steps up to the plate on Sunday against West Brom, but right now I think it’s probably unlikely. Next season son, net season.
Right, that’s it from me today, have a good one.