Julio Pleguezuelo made his Arsenal debut in their Carabao Cup fourth-round win over Blackpool – and now the young defender is targeting an appearance in the north London derby.
A former Barcelona academy player, Pleguezuelo has been with the Gunners since 2013 and was handed his first senior appearance by Unai Emery on Wednesday night.
Arsenal advanced as goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Emile Smith Rowe set them on their way, before Matteo Guendouzi’s red card allowed Blackpool to get a foothold on the game.
Paudie O’Connor halved the deficit by heading home a corner before the Leeds loanee was also sent off late on.
Pleguezuelo came in as one of nine changes made by Emery from the 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace – the only game his side has not won in their last 13 matches.
The 21-year-old looked calm and assured and, after being drawn against local rivals Tottenham in the quarter-finals, Pleguezuelo is hungry to be involved once again.
Asked if his debut was a moment he had been waiting for, Pleguezuelo replied: “It’s been quite a long time since I joined the club, six years to be fair.
“I couldn’t be any happier, I’m buzzing. I tried to stay calm. I knew this was a very big chance for me. It doesn’t happen every day that you play for Arsenal’s first team.
“I just tried to do everything simple and play for the result. I’d love to play that (the north London derby). As I said, I have to keep working and see if I can get another shot.”
Emery has been keen to look at the youngsters at his disposal since replacing Arsene Wenger in the summer, with Smith Rowe the stand-out so far.
Pleguezuelo revealed he is in regular contact with the head coach and that his fellow Spaniard has been a man of his word.
“I have had a few chats with him during the season,” Pleguezuelo added.
“He told me to keep working as I had with the under-23s and my chance would come. Fair play to him, he gave me that chance. I’m so happy and thank him very much for that.
“This year we have a very good under-23 squad and it’s good to see those players can still make it to the first-team and get some minutes. It should be an inspiration for everyone.”
Blackpool return to Sky Bet League One action on Saturday as they host Bristol Rovers, with manager Terry McPhillips wanting to use the Arsenal display as a yardstick moving forwards.
“It should hold us in good stead now, I’m hoping,” he said.
“The big game is now Saturday against Bristol Rovers. We’ve got a long journey back so we will rest and recover, be off tomorrow and be back in on Friday for a big game.”