Premier League - Euroscout: Gervinho

Sun, 31 Jul 18:26:00 2011

Arsenal fans enjoyed a second sight on English turf of Gervinho against New York Red Bulls - but is he the new Thierry Henry?

Premier League - Euroscout: Gervinho

On a day when the returning Henry enraptured the red half of North London, Arsenal fans got the chance to measure up a player who has admitted idolising the Frenchman and even drawn flattering comparisons with the Gunners great. 

Though not an out-and-out goalscorer in the Henry mould – his best tally for a season at Lille was 14 when winning the Double in 2010-11 – Gervinho is quick, direct and loves to run at opponents – all qualities that made Arsenal’s record scorer such a devastating player.

 As Henry himself said of Arsenal’s latest acquisition prior to the weekend’s Emirates Cup: “He is going to kill a lot of defenders in this league."

 Gervinho, signed from Lille for a fee of £10.5 million, says Henry is his “idol”, which comes as little surprise given the Ivory Coast international has very obviously been bred in the Arsenal tradition.

 A graduate of the same ASEC Mimosas academy that spawned Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue, Gervinho also honed his talents at Arsenal’s former feeder club, Beveren, before being put through the familiar finishing school of Ligue 1 in a Lille side renowned for their stylish, attacking football.

 He may have been born near Abidjan, but with that heritage he is almost as authentically Arsenal as Jack Wilshere, Charlie George or Gunnersaurus. It showed in his performance against the New York Red Bulls as he demonstrated pace and intent in a fluid role that saw him stationed on both wings at various points, as well as popping up through the centre.

 A bright performance was slightly marred by an inability to score when one-on-one in the first half but the Ivory Coast international looks a real asset for Arsene Wenger, and either a potential replacement for Samir Nasri on the left or a very direct threat to the career of Theo Walcott on the right.

 As Gervinho’s idol says: "He is an Arsenal player and Arsene doesn't buy players who won't fit in his team. The fans will be excited by him. He can light up a stadium. He can play anywhere."

 Key moments:

 4 – Gervinho gets in behind the defence as the crowd rise to their feet but he is given offside as he drills a shot into the side netting.

 7 – Having started on the right wing, Gervinho displays his versatility when an injury to Jack Wilshere means the team is reshuffled and he appears on the left.

 29 – Gervinho capitalises on a mistake from the Red Bulls and bursts into the box, only to be brought to ground by a messy challenge from Chris Albright. No penalty.

 42 – Tomas Rosicky unlocks the Red Bulls defence with a perfectly-weighted through ball and after taking the ball in his stride Gervinho strikes a shot against the chest of Frank Rost.

 63 – The forward drifts in from the left and ghosts past a succession of Red Bulls players before failing to find Alex Song with a deft through-ball.

 Player ratings:

 Speed: 8/10

 Finishing: 7/10

 Passing: 7/10

 Dribbling: 8/10

 Technique: 8/10

 Approximate value: £15 million.

Euro U21 : Spain

Tom Adams - on Twitter: @tomEurosport / Eurosport

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