Gervinho emerging from Robin van Persie's shadow at Arsenal

 

The doom-mongers predicted big trouble for Arsenal when Robin van Persie packed his bags and headed for Old Trafford in the summer but perhaps they need not have worried.

Gervinho, who spent his first season in north London very much in the shadow of the Dutch master, is suddenly re-discovering the form that tempted manager Arsene Wenger to sign him from Lille while in Germany's Lukas Podolski, they boast one of the most natural goal predators in Europe.

With the prolific Van Persie banging in 37 goals last season, the "one-man team" jibe was often directed at Arsenal but his departure, unpopular as it was with fans, may have paved the way for a genuine strike partnership to evolve.

Gervinho managed just four Premier League goals last season and none in the Champions League and the Ivorian found himself consigned to the bench for long periods after returning from the African Nations Cup early this year.

He appeared something of a misfit and few of the club's supporters would ever have thought that he could go anywhere near plugging the gap left by Van Persie.

After he scored the opener in Arsenal's unconvincing 3-1 victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday to continue his early-season form there are signs that the hard-working player, signed more as a wide man, is winning them over.

He has now scored five goals in his last five games, three in the Premier League and two in Europe.

"He is scoring goals, so his confidence is sky high," assistant manager Steve Bould said of Gervinho, who also set up Podolksi's crucial second goal early in the second half against Olympiakos.

"I think his link-up play is gradually improving. He is learning his trade at centre forward. I don't think he has played there an awful lot and he is a danger with his pace and movement at times. He could be a top player."

He will have to go some to get anywhere near the levels of another winger transformed into a centre forward by Wenger, one Thierry Henry, but his form and his understanding with Podolski and Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla mean that Arsenal's goal tally this season will be less reliant on one man.

"If he gets anywhere near Thierry Henry we'll take that all day long," Bould added. "He is learning and doing OK. I'm delighted."

Podolski's impact is less of a surprise. While lacking the pace and flair of Van Persie, he displaying the same eye for goal that has made him one of the Bundesliga's most reliable marksmen and a fixture in the Germany team since 2004.

"He really is deadly and long may that continue," Bould said.

Arsenal top Group B of the Champions League with six points and with a double-header against Schalke to come, are in pole position to qualify for the last 16.

Reuters

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower