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Arsenal’s Pleguezuelo chasing derby action after debut

PUBLISHED: 15:30 01 November 2018

Blackpool's Mark Cullen (left) and Arsenal's Julio Pleguezuelo battle for the ball (pic Nigel French/PA)

Blackpool's Mark Cullen (left) and Arsenal's Julio Pleguezuelo battle for the ball (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Julio Pleguezuelo made his Arsenal debut in the Carabao Cup fourth-round win over Blackpool and now the young defender wants to play 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 head coach Unai Emery.

Arsenal advanced as goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Emile Smith Rowe set them on their way, before Matteo Guendouzi’s red card was followed by a reply from Paudie O’Connor, who was sent off himself 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 last eight, 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, adding: “I have had a few chats with him during the season.

“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 make it to the first team and get some minutes. It should be an inspiration for everyone.”

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