The England international is rested following his Champions League exertions, while youngsters Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson all start
The England international, who scored the opening goal for the Gunners against Montpellier in midweek, starts on the bench as Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey make up a three-man midfield.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain starts alongside Lukas Podolski and in-form Olivier Giroud in attack, while full-backs Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson are also handed starts.
Paul Lambert, meanwhile, goes with the same Aston Villa side which gave Manchester United an almighty scare earlier this month, save for Stephen Ireland, who makes way for Karim El-Ahmadi.
Darren Bent is not included in the match squad despite pre-match rumours he would be fit to return from injury.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Bannan, Weimann, Agbonlahor, Benteke.
Subs: Given, Ireland, Albrighton, Holman, Delph, Bowery, Lichaj.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski, Giroud.
Subs: Sagna, Vermaelen, Wilshere, Coquelin, Arshavin, Mannone, Gervinho.