Football

Wenger: Experience will boost youngsters

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Arsene Wenger has no doubts his young Gunners will have grown from their "big jump" into the Champions League, despite going down 1-0 to Olympiacos after a battling display during last night's final Group H clash in Athens.

The Greeks progressed through to the knockout stages as runners-up to Arsenal, who named the youngest side to play in the Champions League with an average age of just 21.

"From Barnet to Athens is a big jump, but they did very well," said the Arsenal manager, who will now recall his rested first-team regulars for Sunday's crucial Barclays Premier League trip to Liverpool.

With passage to the last 16 already secured, Wenger chose to rest most of his first-team regulars - with 18-year-old left-back Tom Cruise handed a debut and reserve captain Kyle Bartley playing alongside veteran Mikael Silvestre, 32, in central defence.

Wales international Aaron Ramsey, meanwhile, impressed in the role of midfield playmaker filled so well by rested captain Cesc Fabregas.

Indeed, with better finishing from England forward Theo Walcott - fit again following a hamstring problem - and the wasteful Mexican Carlos Vela, Arsenal's youngsters would have taken a deserved result from the game.

Wenger added: "Nobody was disappointing, and it is difficult to single out individual performances - although Ramsey had a good presence, gave good balls and produced a good work rate.

"They all looked like they played every week in this competition.

"I had the performance I expected, but not the result we could have got.

"These youngsters play exactly like the first team, and they represented Arsenal well, despite the fact that they are the youngest team to have played in the Champions League."

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Topics:
Arsenal
Tom Cruise
Internationals
Aaron Ramsey
Football
Kyle Bartley
Mikael Silvestre
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Barnet
Liverpool
Marvin Bartley
Theo Walcott
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