David O'Leary says that one side benefit of Saturday's painful Highbury experience was being able to use it as a private football lesson for his younger players.

The Aston Villa manager already had three members of the club's 2002 FA Youth Cup-winning team out there against his old club Arsenal in Luke Moore, Steven Davis and Liam Ridgewell.

But, with his side trailing 3-0 after an hour, O'Leary threw two more youngsters into the fray, teenage striker Gabby Agbonlahor and 20-year-old defender Gary Cahill, who was making his Premiership bow.

It made for a daunting final half-hour, especially as Arsenal weren't finished and went on to score two more goals, as well as forcing Thomas Sorensen into a string of late saves. But O'Leary says that it is all part of the steep, hopefully upward learning curve his clutch of former Academy lads are on - and that the players will be better for the experience.

"I had nothing to lose," O'Leary said, "particularly with Gary and Gabby. Coming on and facing that will benefit them both in the long run.

"Gabby made himself a nuisance and set up a great chance for Luke Moore and, with Gary, I just wanted to give him the experience of such a big stage.

"I tried get across to the young lads just what they were up against. They were playing against an exceptional side who, in a few weeks' time, could be crowned kings of Europe. And it can only have done them good."

O'Leary was not surprised that his entire team were given such a footballing lesson by awesome Arsenal. But he did admit to some frustration that Villa did not make more of a contest of it.

"What disappointed me was that we didn't make the most of our chances," he said.

"We could actually have been one up before we went one down. And when you have chances like we did against teams like Arsenal you have to take them.

"We also gave some poor goals away. You might get away with it some weeks but when you mistakes against a side of such quality on that sort of form they can destroy you.

"I thought at half time, 'you never know, if the next chance comes to us, then we could get back into it', but they went and scored 45 seconds after the break, and that was it."