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Kieran Gibbs saves arsenal from european oblivion

BY SEAN MARLAND  / @SeanMarland

Watching Arsenal defend a lead can be stressful at the best of times, but when a Champions League spot and the club's future are hanging by a thread, the whole experience descends towards the sheer agony suffered by those unfortunate enough to be hungover on the morning of their root canal procedure.

We've all lived through a couple of these inglorious struggles in recent years, but if you cast your mind back to the one before last, you might remember a stomach-churning moment in injury time when some West Brom attacker breached our ramshackle defence (for at this time they still played in the figurative and literal shadow of Andre Santos) and looked like scuppering us as we shambled our way towards fourth place.*

A bleak future flashed before our eyes. Meaningless Thursday nights spent playing Romanian pub teams. The shame of being forced to shop in the Darren Bent aisle during transfer windows. The prospect of having yet more players prised away by the league's petro-fuelled bastard clubs.

After the nadir of that afternoon at Old Trafford nine months before, had we battled like badgers to drag ourselves out of the mire, only to be usurped by Sp*rs as the finishing line beckoned? Would Henry's last-gasp winner at Sunderland have been in vain? Had Gervinho fought Joey Barton for nothing?

Enter Kieran James Ricardo Gibbs.

Cynics may say he was out of position in the first place, but such people return from tropical holidays and moan about the food on the plane. In any case, the way he leapt to action to prevent a goal which would have plunged us into the Europa League abyss was Herculean.

Here's to you Mr Gibbs. If you have a finer moment in an Arsenal shirt, then it will be a very fine moment indeed.

*In a far cry from last year's pell mell charge for the line, we secured a solitary point from home fixtures against Wigan and Norwich in the closing weeks of the season.

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