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English Premiership

Gibbs thwarts Spurs in north London derby


Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, left, celebrates after scoring a goal,with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London, Sunday Nov. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

LONDON, November 8 – Arsenal substitute Kieran Gibbs scored three minutes after coming on to earn his side a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s north London derby and deny Tottenham Hotspur a famous victory.

Harry Kane’s 32nd-minute goal, his sixth in four games, put Spurs on course for a first win at the Emirates Stadium in five years, but after Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech had prevented the visitors from swelling their lead, Mesut Ozil teed up Gibbs for a 77th-minute equaliser.

Victory would have sent Arsenal to the top of the Premier League table, following Manchester City’s earlier goalless draw at Aston Villa, but having seen his team humiliated 5-1 by Bayern Munich on Wednesday, manager Arsene Wenger will have been hugely relieved by Gibbs’s strike.

The left-back’s goal, his first in over a year, left Spurs three points off the Champions League places and five points below second-place Arsenal.

But while visiting manager Mauricio Pochettino could count himself unfortunate not to have emerged victorious, his side have now gone 11 league games unbeaten and look strong contenders for a top-four berth.

Fit again after a hip complaint, Laurent Koscielny replaced Gabriel at centre-back in the only change to the Arsenal team torn apart by Bayern as Wenger’s side went in search of a sixth successive league win.

Arsenal had bounced back from their previous Champions League defeat, at home to Olympiakos, by putting Manchester United to the sword and they looked to make a similarly quick start here.

Alexis Sanchez picked out Joel Campbell, who kept his place in the absence of Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, with an early pass across the box, but the Costa Rican erred in using his left foot to receive the ball and the chance fled.

Arsenal looked to hit quick passes behind the Spurs defence, but with Olivier Giroud leading the line, rather than the rapid Walcott, it was a tactic that failed to work.

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Having felt their way into the contest, Spurs began to punch holes in the hosts’ defence.

– Giroud profligate –

Mousa Dembele saw a shot blocked and new England call-up Eric Dier headed fractionally wide from Christian Eriksen’s in-swinging free-kick before Kane marked his first appearance at the Emirates with the opening goal.

Danny Rose bent a glorious pass in behind the Arsenal defence from inside his own half and with Koscielny mistiming his attempt to step up and play offside, Kane had the freedom of north London to canter down the inside-left channel and place a shot beyond Cech.

Sanchez squandered Arsenal’s best chance to equalise before half-time when he failed to make telling contact with Campbell’s low cross from the right, presenting Hugo Lloris with an easy save.

Arsenal made a change at half-time that saw Mathieu Flamini, whose brace sank Spurs in the League Cup last month, replace Santi Cazorla.

Campbell immediately illustrated Arsenal’s determination to show a greater cutting edge by darting in from the right flank and forcing Lloris into a one-handed save with a low, left-foot curler.

Ozil’s set-pieces also proved a source of danger. Twice the German set up Giroud, who saw a header clip the bar and then headed millimetres wide from six yards out, while Koscielny headed off-target from another Ozil delivery.

But Spurs continued to create chances of their own, with Eriksen having a shot deflected fractionally wide by Flamini following a one-two with Kane and then forcing Cech to parry with an angled drive.

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Kane twice drilled wide, while Toby Alderweireld obliged Cech to make a reflex save with a close-range header.

The away side were looking the more likely scorers, but it was Arsenal who struck next as Gibbs — a 74th-minute replacement for Campbell — bundled Ozil’s deep right-wing cross past a startled-looking Lloris at the back post.

The hosts might even have won it, but Giroud hooked a difficult half-volley over the bar and then had a header pushed away by Lloris.

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