In the whole surprise act that are AS Roma, leading the Italian Serie A with a perfect record of 7 wins from 7 matches, the resurgence of Gervinho, who looked like a lost cause during his short tenure with Arsenal, might be the most stunning of all.
The biggest and best thing Roma did over the summer was sign Rudi Garcia to be their head coach after five fantastic seasons with Lille, including a historic double in 2011, with Eden Hazard and Gervinho as his main players.
There were others – Roma did sell Erik Lamela, Marquinhos and Pablo Osvaldo in what seemed like a clearance sale. But they have made quite a few signings that have turned out to be huge for the team, even if they didn’t cause the same splash as those who left, which means they weren’t too expensive.
Bringing in Maicon, Kevin Strootman, Morgan de Sanctis and Adem Ljajic have made a huge difference, enabling Roma to play a counter attacking style that seems to be devestating for most of their opponents in the Serie A, including Inter, who they demolished 3-0 in their most recent match.
Their 4-3-3 formation doesn’t mean too much possession, but it seems to fit very well against Italian sides, especially those playing with the three centre back formation, which seems to exist as a normality only in the Serie A, which is probably evident when Italian teams like Napoli and Juventus play in the Champions League.
Without a real striker (Totti plays as the most advanced player, like in the old 4-6-0 days under Spalletti), Gervinho and Florenzi on the other end seem to have plenty of space to get in between the left centre back and the right wing back, providing him with a wide enough channel for him to use his speed and dribbling skills, leading the team in dribbles per game, to beat defenders or win penalties.
In England, Gervinho was quite difficult to stop early on from getting chances. He simply didn’t convert them. Then came injuries, and Wenger moving him around the pitch. At some point, it seemed like the exciting player he signed from Lille just wasn’t the same person Arsenal were left with, not really knowing what to do with him anymore.
There’s more to Roma’s success than just Gervinho finding himself under his old manager. Strootman and (finally) Miralem Pjanic are doing a super job in the middle of the pitch. Ljajic is quite the joker to pull from the bench, and is one of the most impressive young talents in Italy at the moment. The names might not be as impressive as some previous Roma squads, with Totti and De Rossi not getting any younger, but for now, it looks like Garcia has managed to both revive some careers and find the right combination that so far is unbeatable in Italian football.