Julian Joachim, on as substitute early in the first half for Dwight Yorke, gave Villa an early advantage when he raced on to Tommy Johnson's flick- on from a long clearance and hooked the ball over the advancing Russell Hoult for his second goal since leaving Leicester.
Johnson added a penalty two minutes into the second half after Jacob Laursen had fouled him as they went for Joachim's right-wing cross.
Ian Wright proved his fitness after injury in a midweek outing with the reserves in which he scored a typically thrilling goal but it still wasn't enough to win a place in Arsenal's starting line-up at Filbert Street.
The Gunners made profitable headway down their right flank several times and eventually tempted Steve Walsh into one mistake too many. Dennis Bergkamp beat him near the byline, Walsh tugged back the Dutch international who coolly converted his weekly penalty. Wright came on as late substitute and opened his Premiership account with a 90th-minute strike.
Smarting from their midweek 4-1 thrashing at the City Ground by Sunderland, Nottingham Forest managed to keep the goals against down to one at home to Middlesbrough. But Juninho's 49th-minute shot was a bender of rare Brazilian quality. His fellow countryman Emerson burst through from midfield, squared to Juninho who curled a 25-yard shot past Mark Crossley. Stuart Pearce equalised, it stayed 1-1.
At Upton Park, West Ham beat a stubborn Southampton 2-1 after finding themselves in arrears when a rare counter- attack ended with Neil Heaney cutting in to chip over the advancing Ludek Miklosko.
Evidence of the Hammers' shrinking injury list had been provided by the sight of Florian Raducioiu and Ilie Dumitrescu on the substitute's bench and Paolo Futre in the starting line-up.
But it was the Northern Ireland international Michael Hughes who got the Londoners back on terms, and Julian Dicks - and they do not come much more north European than him - who crashed in the winner nine minutes from time.
To add to the Saints' gloom, Francis Benali was sent off two minutes later, guilty of serious foul play.Reuse content