Emery defends under-fire Matuidi

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Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery has defended Blaise Matuidi in the wake of recent criticism following his underwhelming start to 2017.

Matuidi had been linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, with Juventus the frontrunners.

He remained in Paris and settled back into life under Emery as PSG set their stall out for a Ligue 1 title battle with Nice and Monaco.

The France international has been struggling to find his best form since the turn of the year, though, but Emery sees no reason for concern.

"I am very happy with Blaise's performances," Emery stated at a news conference.

"Just like any other player, he sometimes performs a bit less in a game, but that is part of football.

"I am not worried about Blaise because I believe in him. I am not going to blame him if he does play as well one game."

Emery has generally preferred a 4-3-3 formation at PSG, but the presence of Hatem Ben Arfa makes it easy to switch to a 4-2-3-1, with the former Nice star able to feature in all four attacking positions.

"It is not so much about the formation, but more about the way the team plays. The characteristics of some players can change the way we play somewhat," Emery added.

"Ben Arfa can play as a number 10, as can [Javier] Pastore. Ben Arfa has also played as a number nine, in Edinson Cavani's position.

"I think he has a great mentality and he always helps the team when we need him. It is a good for him and good for the team. We need players like him, players who are ready whenever we need them."