Bielik - You must be ready for anything

After captaining our under-19 and under-23 sides this season, Krystian Bielik is now targeting a first senior start in our EFL Cup quarter-final against Southampton.

The Poland Under-18 international made his debut as a 60th-minute substitute in last season’s defeat at Sheffield Wednesday before playing the final eight minutes of our third-round win against Nottingham Forest this term.

Bielik was an unused substitute for last month’s game against Reading but is ready to start against Southampton on Wednesday, should Arsène Wenger select him.

“I’m really happy when I’m in the League Cup squad and when I’m on the bench,” he told Arsenal Player. “But if Mr Wenger chooses me to start in the first XI, I wouldn’t be surprised, I would be a little bit shocked but I would be ready because I work hard every day to do this.

“It’s a big difference between the under-23s and the first team but we make the step up because we want to be the best. It’s much quicker and you have to think more and faster on the pitch, too.

"You don’t have time to think about this. You have to be ready for everything. Hopefully Mr Wenger will chose me and I will do my best. That would be great.”

Jeff Reine-Adelaide has also been heavily involved in the competition so far, starting both matches, and Bielik has been impressed with his friend’s performances.

“Jeff can play in midfield, on the wing or as a striker,” Bielik said. “It doesn’t matter because he’s a really good player and his quality on the pitch is really, really high. He can dribble, he can pass, he can run with the ball and he can be a really good player if he keeps going and works hard.

“He’s a really good friend but the most important thing for me was that, even when he moved from the under-23s to first-team dressing room, he didn’t change. He’s remained the same person and that’s the most important thing. He’s a very good player and a very good friend.”

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