In the last few weeks the Ivorian showed glimpses of the potential that Arsene Wenger saw in the player when he signed him for nearly £11 million.
Gervinho sealed the 2-0 victory over Swansea a few weeks ago with a last minute goal; he then scored another in the 4-1 win at Reading while providing assists to two others; and assisted again in the win over West Bromwich Albion.
Arsenal fans had hoped that the forward had finally found his form but, alas, he looked to be back to his old indecisive self on Saturday, letting a few match-clinching chances go astray due to hesitance and passiveness in front of goal.
He looked dangerous in the first few minutes and dribbled past defenders on more than one occasion only to dither in the area and wait too long before passing and inevitably giving away possession.
His best chance of the match - one that had fans cursing him for letting slip by - was when he made a clever run, springing the offside trap and anticipating the immaculate through-ball from Santi Cazorla.
However, his first touch was once again far too heavy as he prodded it past the keeper; it went too far wide before he could take the shot and by then the angle was too tight and when he did dab it goalwards, the ball rolled harmlessly across the face and was cleared.
Arsenal should have been in the lead before half time but Norwich did well to keep the Gunners out. The second half wasn’t an improvement for Arsenal and Gervinho looked even more ineffective. And to the Arsenal fans’ dismay, Norwich scored in the 56th minute from a free kick.
When Wenger finally decided to replace the Ivory Coast international in the 60th minute with Theo Walcott and also Jack Wilshere – who had an uncharacteristically poor game – with Lukas Podolski, the difference was immediate.
The replacements brought instant urgency to the Gunners’ attack and Walcott showed again that his pace is simply irreplaceable.
An additional substitution of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Bacary Sagna further enhanced the Arsenal attack and it was in the 85th minute that Mikel Arteta slotted the controversially given penalty for a foul on Olivier Giroud.
Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain then combined well in a one-two before the young Englishman provided a cross which Giroud netted in the 88th – sliding in and getting the better of Sebastien Bassong.
Podolski then hammered in the last nail to Norwich’s coffin in the 90th with a low shot into the right corner off a Theo Walcott assist.
The victory means Arsenal are ahead of both Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur although the west-Londoners still have a game in hand.
Wenger will therefore have a few tough decisions to make with regards to the team that will be starting tonight in the must-win clash against Everton.
Should Gervinho be left out for one of the replacements that made such a discernible difference after their introduction on Saturday? Should Podolski be given a chance down the middle in lieu of Giroud? Let us know in the comments.
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