Wenger hails Gervinho as Arsenal stay in the hunt for Champions League place
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association
20:44 GMT, 30 March 2013
20:44 GMT, 30 March 2013
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hailed the confident display of Gervinho after the Ivory Coast forward set the Gunners on the way to a 4-1 win over relegation-battlers Reading which kept them in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Gervinho has often cut a controversial figure among supporters following a string of frustrating displays following an 11million move from Lille in July 2011.
However, the 25-year-old was on the money this afternoon, opening the scoring on 11 minutes and having a hand in everything positive as Arsenal eventually broke the Royals stubborn resistance again at the start of the second half when Santi Cazorla sweeping home. Olivier Giroud added a third following a quick break by Gervinho.
Key role: Gervinho was praised by Arsene Wenger following his performance against Reading
Hal Robson-Kanu headed in a consolation for Nigel Adkins' men, but there was to be no recovery to mark their new manager's first match in charge as Mikel Arteta's penalty made sure Arsenal closed up on Chelsea in the race for fourth-spot and also remained within striking distance of Tottenham, on whom they hold a match in hand.
'Gervinho's performance was very strong. He was always dangerous, always looked like he could score, gave assists and scored himself,' Wenger said.
'I believe that sometimes Gervinho has lost confidence because he played in a very negative atmosphere during a period. Strikers need confidence, and [with] his game, even more.
Winning feeling: Gervinho celebrates with team mate Bacary Sagna after the 4-1 victory
'He was always taking the ball and going forward, and provoking. When you lose confidence, that is a very dangerous game then.
'When he has found the confidence back, he's a very dangerous player.
'At the African Nations Cup, for me he was the best striker there. He is the type of player who is difficult to find, because they always go at people.'
Wenger was pleased with the final result for his side, who have now won six of their last eight league games and also won 2-0 away over Bayern Munich in the Champions League, although still bowing out of Europe.
'I enjoyed our technical side, our creative side, our spirit and how disciplined and focused we were,' said Wenger.
Mind the gap: Arsene Wenger fighting for Champions League qualification
'The regret you have is that there were more goals in this game than the number of goals we scored.
'Overall, it's a good basis to finish the season well. Let's just keep that spirit, that attitude and play the football we want to play.'
Wenger called for his side to keep their performances high over the run-in, with little margin for error if they are to gatecrash the top four once again.
'What we do is we look at the table and we are still behind Chelsea and Tottenham. We are not in a calculation mode,' he said.
'We can just win our next game and continue to do what we do at the moment.
'We are on a run so let's take care of the quality of our game and that run. After, we'll see where we stand.
On target: Gervinho was on the scoresheet
'It (Champions League qualification) will be less predictable than it was predicted. We have a word to say in that and we want to give our best to do it.'
For Reading, meanwhile, the outlook is not so positive as the defeat sent them bottom of the table on goal difference, some seven points adrift of safety.
However, with a home clash against former club Southampton, Adkins is not about to throw in the towel just yet.
He said: 'We have had a bit of a fragmented week with the change, and players away on international duty, trying to get to grips with where we want to go and what to do is going to be challenging.
'We wanted to get something here, but didn't. Arsenal kept the ball very well.
'We will analyse it now, debrief back with the players, take the lessons from it and work very hard on the training ground for the next one.
'You can't change everything straight away, but we will all work hard together to give us a chance in the next game.'
Adkins added: 'The spirit is there in the group, and all we can do is take it one match at a time – there here and now is putting this one to bed, working hard over the course of the week for the next one.'