The plan was to recap this game as one of our weekend match of the day installments. Unfortunately the main actors featured in today’s stalemate at Villa Park conspired to murder this idea in devastating fashion. Oh, and the rain. The rain was really bad.

Paul Lambert watched from the stands as his team played the last game in a daunting stretch. In all, there are many positives for him to take away. Villa’s game plan — one focused on pressing Arsenal’s attacking players as often as possible — worked extremely well. Arsenal weren’t afforded space to walk about while plotting their next move, something the Gunners did well against 10 man Tottenham and Montpellier mid week.

While Arsenal supporters will find reason to gripe about today’s results — fully within their right — this is after all, a game. The ovation former Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov received from both supporter sections was easily the highlight of the match. Keep fighting the good fight, Stan.

There were moments of confusion. Wojciech Szczesny came out of his goal to corral a long ball down the left flank. Thanks to the slippery conditions Arsenal’s keeper lost his footing and slid helplessly out of the area, appearing to handle the ball in the process. Lee Mason, portraying the role of the benevolent official, decided the mishap only warranted a free kick. Eric Lichaj’s attempt at pulling off the handle bar mustache look failed miserably in a dark moment for facial hair enthusiasts everywhere. Brett Holman’s superb 77th minute strike was tipped onto the crossbar by Szczesny, the best chance for either side.

For Arsene Wenger the questions that have plagued the beleaguered manager are back after a one week derby victory respite. “Chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” erupted from traveling Arsenal fans after a series of substitutions late in the game. Lukas Podolski  has been substituted  in 13 of 13 games this season. Gervinho replaced him, opening up a black hole on the left that Villa exposed repeatedly. Without Jack Wilshere — drawing deserved day off after a busy week — the midfield relies too heavily on Santi Cazorla for link play. Cazorla and countryman Mikel Arteta vanished in the second half. With no striker on the bench, Wenger removed Olivier Giroud for Francis Coquelin. You don’t know what you’re doing indeed. The lack of depth on this team is striking every time they play three games in seven days.

January will be a massive month for the club. Thierry Henry will most likely return for a two month spell that will see the Arsenal legend score a couple huge goals and warm the hearts of disgruntled Gooners. Unfortunately, that won’t be good enough. Additions have to be made for the long term health of Arsenal. The club’s new Emirates sponsorship deal will earn Arsenal £30m a year from the Middle Eastern airline. It’s a lot of money — though it falls below Manchester United’s deal with Chevrolet. Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis says the cash will be used to spend on salaries and transfer fees.

“We can pay bigger salaries and I think we can invest more in transfer fees. How we make those decisions will be based on a manager whose judgment over the years has been shown to be absolutely outstanding.

As Wenger stood on the touch line, soaked by the downpour at Villa Park, the image of a manager making his last stand was palpable. He’s not Mark Hughes or Roberto Di Matteo. He won’t be cast aside in a moment of madness. January will indicate how much fight Arsenal’s legendary boss has left. After his team reached the Champions League knockout stage for the 13th consecutive season he beamed with pride. Today was quite different. Mili Vanili had it right.