Arsenal Legend: Hardworking Forward Crucial to Gunners' Ambitions

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By Vishnuprasad S | October 5, 2012 10:43 PM EST

Former Arsenal striker Alan Smith has expressed his delight at Gervinho's improved form in front of goal this season.

The Ivory Coast international, who joined the Gunners from Lille in 2011, did not enjoy a great first season in north London. However, the 25 year old has been impressive as the club's new centre forward this term and netted his fifth goal of the season against Olympiakos in midweek. Smith feels there is more to come from the player, as he is now familiar with English top-flight football.

"They owe a huge debt of thanks to Gervinho for his industry and desire. He dragged his team round, got the goal, made the second [for Lukas Podolski] so he was a great plus for them. He is always going to work hard, work the channels and make defenders run with him but he has added that little bit of finishing to his game," Sky Sports quoted Smith as saying.

"And he quite rightly got a standing ovation from the Arsenal fans, who have not always been his biggest supporters for the times that he has been wasting the final ball. But he is enjoying a nice little purple patch and it has come at the right time for Arsenal," the 49 year old pointed out.

Arsenal assistant coach Steve Bould also hailed Gervinho's form this season and compared the Ivorian to club legend Thierry Henry, who was also transformed from a winger to a centre forward by manager Arsene Wenger.

Smith praised the Gunners' second-half display against Olympiakos and also the club's impressive start to the new Champions League season. After two successive wins, Arsenal are at the top of Group B, two points clear of second-placed Schalke.

"All is well that ends well because they gave us a few scares and him a few scares along the way, particularly in the first half. But give the boys credit. They did defend better in the second half, I can't think of [goalkeeper Vito] Mannone having too much to do in the second half. They saw it through and it was fairly comfortable in the end. There have been a couple of Champions League games when they have had their moments defensively but with six points what more can you ask? They have given themselves a nice cushion now," Smith added.

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