Arsenal 4 Reading 1 match report: Arsène Wenger revels in trying to unlock potential of star turn Gervinho

Ivorian's passion for the game, if not his consistency, pleases the Arsenal manager

Arsène Wenger was never going to be comfortable, following through his threat to rid Arsenal of assorted under-achievers. His instinct is to psycho-analyse, rather than punish. Give him a puzzle like Gervinho to solve, even at a critical point in the season, and he is in his element.

The Ivorian plays as if his shorts are on fire, and his jock strap is simmering gently, at gas mark two. Everything is done at cartoon speed, which makes him a compelling spectacle for the neutral, and a constant challenge to the faith and blood pressure of his manager.

Gervinho scored the opening goal, in a 4-1 home win over Reading which should have been much more conclusive, and set up others for Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. Despite his pre-match pronouncement that players were playing for their future, Wenger made a point of insisting Gervinho was safe.

"In all honesty, he is not a clinical finisher," the Arsenal manager admitted, with a paternal grin.

"He rushes his finishes. He's a winger, don't forget. Sometimes he arrives in front of goal after a 60 or 70-yard run.

'He's so quick with the ball he makes it difficult for himself. By the time he faces the goalkeeper he is not fresh any more.

"You can develop composure with experience. The big goalscorers just pass it in and that's what he has to learn.

"He wants to do well. He loves football. He is a hard worker. Physically, you cannot fault his effort. Even when he had a bad period, he always tried very hard.

"The big problem the last two years has been the African Nations Cup. Every time he came back it took him a while to recover. But we work with him on his mentality in front of goal. His finishing is linked with his psychology. Players are up and down. Strikers and goalkeepers are similar. Each is dependent on confidence. My worry was that he was playing in a negative atmosphere.

"You always think you should persist, to give him the confidence, but it was a big risk to play him, because it could have pushed him further down."

It was, in truth, no day to make significant judgements. Reading were awful, and Nigel Adkins, their new manager after replacing Brian McDermott on Tuesday, completed the process of anaesthetisation. He is the unquotable, in pursuit of the impossible. Somewhere, buried beneath the lexicon of corporate caution, there is a football man, trying to get out.

That is a shame, since he should elicit sympathy on Saturday, when Southampton visit the Majedski. The disrespect shown to him by his former club has been compounded by the need to take them to court to gain appropriate compensation. Adkins should prepare himself for the worst.

Match report

Goals: Arsenal Gervinho 11, Cazorla 48, Giroud 67, Arteta pen 77. Reading Robson-Kanu 68. Subs: Ars Gibbs (Monreal, 71), Podolski (Giroud, 75), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gervinho, 75). Rea Hunt 6 (Pogrebnyak, 61), Akpan (Karacan, 76), McCleary (Robson-Kanu, 80). Booked: Rea Guthrie. Man of the match Cazorla. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Arsenal 61%. Reading 39%. Attempts on target: Arsenal 14. Reading 2. Referee C Foy (Lancs). Attendance 60,082

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...