Arsenal have taken a risk, fielding a relatively weak side in today's fourth-round FA Cup match at Stoke. But so far, so good. They are tied 1-1 at halftime. Stoke got a goal just 30 seconds into the match, immediately raising questions about an Arsenal defense comprised of Sol Campbell (playing his first game for the Gunners in three or four years), Michael Silvestre, Armand Traore, and Francis Coquelin. None of the four is a regular starter. Fortunately, Denilson evened up the score shortly before halftime off a set piece.
UPDATE: Arsenal's make-shift defense has cost them in the second half. They are down 3-1 with 5 minutes (plus stoppage time) left to play. They are going out of the FA Cup. It's a mixed blessing really because the fixtures really have been piling up; and Arsenal are far more concerned with the Premiership campaign and the Champion's League. Still, when you haven't won a trophy for four years, I would have thought they would have wanted to keep all options open for this season. Resting both Vermaelen and Gallas in the same game was probably not the wisest strategy. And, if you're going to rest your entire starting defense, why risk putting Fabregas on the field against a team that seeks to stop him by cutting out his legs?