The FA Cup fifth round comes to town this weekend and a certain returning attacker could make the difference for Arsenal when Blackburn Rovers visit the Emirates Stadium.
Most Gunners fans may not agree with his assessment, but Arsene Wenger thinks Gervinho was the best player competing at the recent Africa Cup of Nations.
While explaining why Arsenal had not sent any scouts to South Africa, Wenger said: “In the Africa Cup of Nations, the best player is Gervinho. It’s simple.
“Why should we go there when the best player is Gervinho? We already have Gervinho.”
Such high praise is probably insincere given how underwhelming the former Lille player has been since his £11m move from France in 2011, but it was a handy way of batting off a journalist’s question nonetheless.
However, in fairness, the 25-year-old was the stand-out performer for an Ivory Coast side who once again disappointed on the big stage, scoring twice during the group stages before the Elephants were beaten by Nigeria in the quarter-finals.
In addition, his goalscoring return for Arsenal has at least improved slightly this season with five in 19 games and should Wenger decide to throw him in against Rovers, he could just be the man to make the difference.
Gervinho is 4/1 to open the scoring against Michael Appleton’s side, while he is available at 4/5 to notch at any time.
Both options could prove excellent value if he is used in a central striking role – like he was for a spell earlier this term – as Wenger shuffles his pack ahead of Tuesday’s key Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich at the Emirates.
On top of the obvious reasons to believe the Gunners will get through this match unscathed, it must also be remembered that they battered poor Blackburn 7-1 in their last meeting just over a year ago.
Rovers have had three managers since then and have experienced a mixed campaign back in the Championship following last season’s relegation.
They currently sit eighth in England’s second tier and will be hoping for an end-of-season surge to make it into the play-offs.
However, that must sit on the backburner for now as they go to London in search of an upset, of which there have been several already in this year’s FA Cup.
If the Lancashire club are to come away from the game still in the competition, then it is likely that Jordan Rhodes will need to live up to his tag as ‘the best striker outside the Premier League’.
The Scotland international has scored 20 goals in 30 games since his £8m summer move from Huddersfield and can be found at decent odds of 2/1 to score at any time against an Arsenal defence that has conceded 11 goals in six games in both the FA Cup and Capital One Cup this season.
If you think that Rhodes and his teammates can upset the odds on Saturday, then you can back a Rovers win at a hefty-looking 23/2.
However, should you have some optimism for the away side, but not enough that you think they’ll win at the first time of asking, then a stalemate can be backed at 17/4. After all, Arsenal have drawn after 90 minutes in cup games with Swansea City, Reading and Bradford City already this season.
While I would love to think that this season’s FA Cup could provide another ‘cupset’ (you can have that one), I just cannot bring myself to look past Wenger’s men in this clash.
Arsenal have not lost a single FA Cup game since moving to the Emirates in 2006 and Wenger, incredibly, has lost only one at home in his entire tenure as Gunners boss.
So it’s the hosts all the way for me, but the 1/4 on them is hardly value, so we must look to be a bit more specific.
The London outfit have won their last two games 1-0, while Blackburn have only conceded twice in their last four games.
Therefore, the 21/10 on Arsenal winning either 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 seems like the way to go. Should you agree, then you can slap the free £20 bet you get for opening a bwin account today on this to give yourself a chance at winning £62.
And if Gervinho has a hand in the victory, you know who to thank!
Follow David on Twitter @whichdave