Aston Villa manager Paul lambert has issued a hands-off warning to all Premier League clubs interested in signing 23-year-old right-back Matthew Lowton. Arsenal were reported to be mulling a move for the defender as a replacement for Bacary Sagna who is expected to leave the club in the summer.

Matthew Lowton

The England international has started in 36 games this season for Aston Villa in the league, scoring two goals and assisting three. However, the defender is best known for his wonder strike against Stoke City, widely regarded as the goal of the season. His performances have not gone unnoticed among other clubs but Lambert is insistent that he has the final word on all transfers going in and out of Villa Park.

"You can't stop people speculating. That's football all over the world. But he's our player. He's been playing very well. If people are talking about him, that means he's playing well. It becomes frustrating if you do have to lose ones when you're trying to build. At the end of the day, the decision is my own if I let people go. That would always be the case," Lambert said.

Villa are currently fighting it out to stay in the Premier league next season and have embarked on a brilliant run in the league, which has seen them go up to 40 points and a whisker away from guaranteeing another season among England's top flight.

Mertesacker on run-in

Per Mertesacker has revealed that he is happy with the fact that Arsenal are up against teams who are motivated to put in a fight in their coming two games. Arsenal play Wigan at the Emirates and Newcastle away with both teams struggling to stay up in the league.

"Sometimes it is hard to play against a side who are relaxed on the pitch. You could see that against Manchester United last week as they were champions. So I think it is good for us to play against teams who are under pressure. It helps us keep our focus on a high level," he told Arsenal's Official Website.

The Gunners are dependent on the game between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur to decide their fate in the top four race. A win for Tottenham will allow Spurs to move above Arsenal and qualify for the Champions League by winning their next two games, in the expense of the Gunners.

"Both teams have their future in their own hands so we are in a bit of holding position. We will have to wait and see what happens. We can't do anything. But then we know we have to win the games that are coming anyway," he added.