Villa moved out of the bottom three after goals from Christian Benteke and Gabriel Agbonlahor gave them a 2-1 victory at Reading whose relegation plight intensified.
Bottom club QPR drew level on points and on goal difference with Reading as January signings Loic Remy and Andros Townsend helped fire them to a 3-1 win over Sunderland at Loftus Road.
Norwich City's Grant Holt missed an injury-time penalty to allow Southampton, in 16th place, to leave Carrow Road with a 0-0 draw, and West Bromwich Albion beat League Cup winners Swansea City 2-1 at the Hawthorns.
QPR stay bottom on 23 points, level with Brian McDermott's Reading. Wigan, who beat Everton 3-0 in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, slipped into the bottom three as Villa climbed to 17th place with 27 points.
Southampton, on 28, and Newcastle and Sunderland, both on 30 points, are not out of trouble yet.
Newcastle host Stoke City on Sunday.