By Nick Ames

Kieran Gibbs believes that Sunday’s derby against Tottenham is perfectly timed to banish any negativity from the past 10 days.

The young left back made a long-awaited return from injury in the Champions League defeat at AC Milan and, having sat out the FA Cup exit at Sunderland, is now determined to come back strongly against Spurs at Emirates Stadium.

Gibbs wants Arsenal to use the derby as a launchpad for the rest of the season. “It’s more than just another fixture, it has something special and we can use it to put things behind us," he told the Official Matchday Programme.

"We owe the supporters a lot – we have to hold our hands up about what’s happened in the last week or two, we know that we didn’t do what was required of us and everybody has been feeling very apologetic towards the Club and the fans.

"But this is the game in which we can overcome it, and there’s so much to lift ourselves for. We’re still in the top four in the Premier League and I’m sure we can stay there.

"Spurs have improved a lot, though, and you have to give them credit. Any team that’s in their position at this stage of the season has clearly done well, so we’re in for a real battle. All I can say is that we’ll be ready.”

The 22 year-old is as glad as anybody to see the team’s injury list shrinking, and says that sidelined players can’t help but feel responsible when they’re unable to help their team-mates.

“At one point we had so many players out, and it just hurt to see the team effectively cut in half,” he said. “It was so frustrating, and when you can’t help the team you almost blame yourself in some ways. You wonder why it’s happening, and just want to get back as soon as possible.”

Read the full interview with Kieran in Sunday's Official Matchday Programme. Click here to subscribe.

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24 Feb 2012