CHRIS Basham might not have set the world of burger flipping alight but he certainly seems to have defending down to a fine art.

The 20-year-old Wearsider was thrown-in at the deep end at the Emirates Stadium, making his full debut in front of more than 60,000 supporters.

It was a situation he could only dream of three years ago, when he worked part-time at McDonalds while studying at college in County Durham.

“It was the only job I could get at the time really,” recalled the centre-half. “I was there for six months and only earned one star.

“Everyone thinks it’s a bad job but I enjoyed it. There is a lot of graft involved, you didn’t finish until 11 o’clock at night sometimes but it brought the money in.

“Bolton picked me up a few years ago and now I’m playing at the Emirates – it’s amazing really.”

Gary Megson was forced to give Basham his baptism of fire after Nicky Hunt, originally pencilled-in to play for the suspended Gretar Steinsson, pulled out with a thigh injury.

And while the result soured his experience a little, Basham earned plenty of plaudits for his performance against the Gunners and even grabbed Robin van Persie’s shirt as a memento of his experience.

“There are mixed emotions for me really,” he said. “Getting my debut is overwhelming but getting beat was hard.

“Football is a cruel, cruel game sometimes and we’re all down in the dumps but there are still positives we can take.

“I only got told on Friday afternoon that I would be playing. The manager brought me in and said that Nicky had pulled out.

“I was nervous at first when he told me but it felt great when I got out there.

“I was blowing for the first 10 minutes, and especially when we were defending our hearts out in the second half. But I was pleased with how it went for me.

“I’m only 20-years-old so hopefully I’ll be playing at the Reebok for a long time yet alongside Gary Cahill or Andy O’Brien.”

Basham will certainly have done his chances of earning a new contract no harm at all, with his current deal up in the summer.

His only previous cameo came against his hometown club Sunderland in December – but he has remained a fixture on the bench ever since and is now very much considered a part of the first team.

“Sunderland was a dream come true really,” Basham said. “All my friends and family were there because they are all season ticket holders.

“From there, lads started getting injured and suspended, and I was thinking ‘maybe I’ll get another chance’ and then to play here at the Emirates – one of the best stadiums in the world against some of the world’s best players – it was fantastic.

“Gretar Steinsson is back next week so he will probably come back in. But I won’t be down by any means because I needed to let the manager know I could play, and I did that.”

Basham could have created an unlikely equaliser late on when he burst through in the Arsenal box before squaring for Kevin Davies – who should have done better with his effort from eight yards out.

“I could have taken it on myself but I thought I’d pull it back and give Kev the opportunity,” the youngster said. “He knows himself that he probably should have scored – but that’s football, it happens.”

Manager Megson insisted he had no worries about throwing the inexperienced Basham into the melting pot at the Emirates.

“His attitude is first class and as a person he is first class,” he said.

“When Gretar Steinsson was suspended we thought Nicky Hunt would play but unfortunately he felt his thigh go in training.

“We could have chopped and changed, stuck other people in, but I knew if I put Chris in there that he would have the right attitude.

“I’m really pleased for him because he did ever so well but I’m disappointed too because he won’t be able to say that on his debut, he got something from the Emirates.”