Just two minutes later, the American goalkeeper was beaten. Cazorla saw his initial shot blocked, but when the ball returned to his feet he sent it into the net despite Guzan's best efforts.
© PA Photos
As the half drew to a close Olivier Giroud cut inside from the left, only to see his low shot held by Guzan in the Villa net.
Paul Lambert's Villa came out for the second half with a positive outlook and could have drawn themselves level with 51 minutes on the clock. Centre-back Ciaran Clark rose highest inside the area, but he only succeeded in heading over the target from eight yards out.
However, they did eventually convert one of their chances with 68 minutes played. A quick counter-attack ended with Austrian Andreas Weimann trying his luck from 25 yards - a shot that Szczesny failed to hold and the ball crept into the net.
Both sides then had chances to claim a winner, but it was the hosting Gunners who found the decisive goal with five minutes left. Nacho Monreal got to the left byline and cut the ball back for his fellow Spaniard Cazorla, who beat Guzan from 10 yards out.