MX23RW : Monday, July 26 05:35:24| >> :120:24118:24118:

On this day: Youthful Arsenal lose to Olympiacos

On this day in 2009, Olympiacos end Arsenal's unbeaten run in the group stages of the Champions League with a 1-0 victory in Greece.

This evening, Arsenal will look to progress through to the last 16 of the Champions League for the 16th successive year when they take on Olympiacos, with the Gunners needing to beat their Greek opponents by at least two goals. However, on this day six years ago, the Premier League club squared off against the same team with qualification for the knockout stages already secured.

After being drawn in a group that also included Standard Liege and AZ, Arsenal would come through their opening five matches having recorded 13 points from a possible 15. Despite going into the final fixture with a six-point lead, Arsene Wenger's men did not have it all their own way, with the team forced to come back from two goals behind on matchday one against Anderlecht, while they required 78 minutes to break the deadlock in the clash with Olympiacos at the Emirates.

Nevertheless, Wenger was in a position where he could rest many of his star players, instead handing first-team experience to the likes of Tom Cruise, Kerrea Gilbert, Kyle Bartley and Fran Merida. A 17-year-old Jack Wilshere would also take his place in the starting lineup, and although defender Mikael Silvestre - a veteran of European football - played at the back, the side named by Wenger was the youngest to ever feature in the Champions League with an average age of just 21.

Arsenal's Fran Merida (L) vies for the ball with Olympiacos' Olof Mellberg during their UEFA Champions League football game at the Karaiskaki stadium in Athens on December 9, 2009.© Getty Images

While Arsenal could afford to go into the match relaxed and without pressure, the same could not be said of their opponents, who still needed a point to make it through to the next stage as group runners-up. The tension was soon evident as the hosts struggled to get near the English outfit during the opening 15 minutes, and Arsenal should have been in front when Theo Walcott was released through on goal, but the attacker failed to make the most of the chance and fired straight at the goalkeeper.

The best that the home side had to offer came through Luciano Galletti, who sent a volley just wide of the target, but while Olympiacos remained in a position where they were in control of their own destiny with 45 minutes remaining, the home support at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium demanded a goal and that arrived just two minutes after the restart.

Brazilian left-back Leonardo was given the freedom to drive forward at a back-tracking Arsenal defence, who gave the defender too much time to slot the ball past Lukasz Fabianski in the Gunners' goal. Falling behind brought a response from the visitors, who were only denied an equaliser when former Real Madrid man Raul Bravo made a last-ditch block to deny Walcott, moments after Carlos Vela had failed to make the most of an opening inside the penalty area.

Players of Olympiacos Piraeus celebrate their victory against Arsenal during their Champions league match at the Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus near Athens on December 9, 2009. Olympiacos won 1-0.© Getty Images

As the match drew nearer to a conclusion, Olympiacos wasted chances to put the result beyond any doubt through Leonardo and Konstantinos Mitroglou, while Arsenal almost earned a share of the spoils with two minutes left, only to see Leonardo clear off the line from Aaron Ramsey. As the full-time whistle went, Olympiacos celebrated their achievement and notable scalp, but it was a night when Wenger learned plenty about the club's potential stars of the future.

After the match, the Frenchman said: "I am very proud of the young players, there are a lot of positives. From Barnet to Athens is a big jump, but they did very well. Nobody was disappointing, and it is difficult to single out individual performances, although Aaron Ramsey had a good presence, gave good balls and produced a good work-rate."

None of the players who were blooded in this match, including Gilles Sunu, went on to forge careers for themselves in North London, but the occasion was another example of Wenger's willingness to place faith in the club's youth setup, something he continues to do in his 20th year in charge.

Olympiacos: Nikopolidis, Mellberg, Galitsios, Raul Bravo, Papadopoulos, Leonardo, Galletti, Oscar (Pantos), Dudu (Domi), Maresca, Mitroglou
Subs not used: Pardo, Papadopoulos, Katsikogiannis, Jaouad Zairi, Georgios

Arsenal: Fabianski, Silvestre, Bartley, Cruise, Gilbert, Walcott, Ramsey, Song, Wilshere (Sunu), Merida, Vela
Subs not used: Mannone, Eastmond, Ayling, Coquelin, Randall

ID:260318: cacheID:260318:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:restore:8414:
Restore Data
Share this article now:
Did you know...?
Arsene Wenger the manager of Arsenal looks on during the Capital One Cup fourth round match between Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal at Hillsborough Stadium on October 27, 2015 in Sheffield, England.
Read Next:
Wenger: 'Fear factor could help Arsenal'

rhs 2.0
Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States53412
Republic of KoreaRepublic of Korea2035
Great BritainGreat Britain1214
Today's Olympic highlights header

Monday's key events

· Jonny Brownlee will look to make the most of his brother Alistair's absence as he goes for gold in the men's triathlon (10.30pm-1am)

· Team GB get their campaign underway with two matches, against Canada and Japan (from 1.30am)

· One of Team GB's biggest gold medal hopes, Adam Peaty, will take part in the 100m breaststroke final. (3.12am)
· Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky go head to head for gold in the women's 400m freestyle final (3.20am)

· Tom Daley and Matty Lee take part in the men's 10m synchro final (7am-8am)

· The men's team final takes place (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!