Both sides made a single change apiece from their last Premier League games, with academy graduate Bukayo Saka keeping his place from Thursday’s 3-0 Europa League win at Eintracht Frankfurt. Meanwhile, Trezeguet came straight back in for Villa following suspension.
The Gunners tried to set the early tempo but lacked intensity and shortly after testing Bernd Leno with an effort from distance, John McGinn put the Villans ahead.
Anwar El-Ghazi was the architect, whipping in a ball from the left and McGinn ghosted in unmarked and guided home past the German goalkeeper.
Saka was Arsenal’s best player in the first half, striking just over Tom Heaton’s goal but things went from bad to worse for the home side on 41 minutes.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles found himself out of position and lunged into a challenge on Neil Taylor, catching the Welshman and with the youngster on a yellow card, referee Jon Moss gave him his marching orders with his second.
The drama continued after the break and Arsenal drew level after 59 minutes when Bjorn Engels was adjudged to have fouled Matteo Guendouzi and Nicolas Pepe smashed home his first goal for the club from the penalty spot.
However, a minute later Villa retook the lead, taking advantage of more passive defending as Jack Grealish drove down the left before cutting back to the unmarked Wesley who cleverly slid home.
Unai Emery’s side tried to hit back, Guendouzi’s drilled effort somehow coming back off the post and bouncing off Heaton to safety.
The Frenchman was the architect of the equaliser, floating the ball into the area and after Taylor and Tyronne Mings failed to clear, Calum Chambers, brought on for Saka at half-time, lofted home.
Arsenal had the bit between their teeth and got the winner with six minutes to go when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired home a free-kick with Heaton unsighted.
Even then there were calls for a Villa penalty when Sokaratis leaned into the ball but VAR decided against awarding a spot-kick and somehow, the home side held on.