| 4.7°C Dublin

Wenger: Gervinho 'will fire'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has told Gervinho he must not become desperate to get back on the goal trail as the Ivory Coast forward helps drive the Gunners' charge up the Premier League table.

Since being sent off on his league debut at Newcastle for slapping Joey Barton, Gervinho has settled quickly following an £11m summer transfer from Lille, where he provided the most assists in the French top flight en route to the title last season.

The pacy 24-year-old has added to the Gunners' formidable frontline, supplementing Theo Walcott on the opposite flank while providing ammunition for in-form lead striker Robin van Persie.

However, Gervinho has gone six games without a goal and will be hungry to add to his tally against Fulham today, having missed golden opportunities in the matches with Norwich and then Borussia Dortmund in midweek.

Wenger, though, is not overly concerned.

He said: "Gervinho is a fantastic provider and he also creates space for the other players because he always goes behind.

"The problem with Gervinho is he is in the opposite position of Robin van Persie -- he is desperate for a goal and once you are in that situation...

"You could see the other night he had the chance to score, but you start to think. When you start to think you are already finished.

"For the rest his game is absolutely fantastic and he works hard for the team."

Wenger added: "I have spoken to him about that, but he is not obsessed with scoring goals, it will come naturally."

Like Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh, Gervinho is set to play in the African Nations Cup at the start of 2012, which could see him miss as many as 10 matches, should the Elephants reach the final in Gabon on February 12.

"It is a concern," Wenger said.



EXHAUSTED

"When they come back, they look really exhausted. I always give them extra time off."

Fortunately for the Gunners, Cameroon failed to reach the finals, which start on January 21 in Equatorial Guinea, meaning Wenger will not be deprived of Alex Song.

The 24-year-old defensive midfielder has grown in stature again this season, having come a long way since being hauled off at half-time following a torrid opening 45 minutes against Fulham at Craven Cottage in November 2006.

"He had periods when he had doubts in his mind, when people said he was a bad buy -- when you are a young boy that is difficult to take, but Alex has got over that," said Wenger.

"Either you play somebody or you don't. That is the best way to show confidence in a player."

Song set up Van Persie's second goal against Dortmund after bursting down the left flank.

Wenger said: "You would not expect what he delivers at the moment because he looks also to be a creative player."

Arsenal head into today's clash against Fulham looking for a sixth straight Premier League win to keep them close to the top four.

Following 11 wins from 13 in all competitions, Wenger's squad have very much turned the corner.

The Arsenal manager said: "Consistency is the biggest challenge because consistency is the most important thing if you want to do well."


Privacy