Four Findings: St Johnstone 0-2 Celtic
The Champions left it late but left McDiarmid Park with all three points to claim their seventh consecutive victory in the SPFL on Sunday.
Neil Lennon’s side started the match with iconic captain Scott Brown watching from the bench while David Turnbull received his first start for the Hoops.
Celtic had to wait 90 minutes to open the scoring after Leigh Griffiths sent his precise header into the bottom corner. In the third minute of stoppage time, Patryk Klimala doubled the advantage with a thumping finish past the keeper, despite being tackled to the ground moments earlier.
The Hoops now enter the international break still unbeaten from nine matches in league play, which has them in second place and one point shy of Rangers, who defeated Ross County 2-0 to keep their top spot with an extra game played.
Celtic will look to take the top spot when they return from the break with an intriguing October 17th matchup with Rangers at Parkhead.
Here are our ‘Four Findings’ from Celtic’s latest victory.
Coming off a gruelling Europa League performance on Thursday, it was going to be asking too much for the same team to play well on Sunday. Neil Lennon realised that, but perhaps still got his team selection wrong.
It took the super-sub pairing of Patryk Klimala and Leigh Griffiths to finally find the breakthrough. Griffiths’ winner will give the 30-year-old, who made his season debut, all the confidence in the world. It makes you wonder, even if he isn’t 90 minutes fit, why he isn’t in the Scotland team with such little quality in their forward line.
Klimala, who now has three goals in nine league appearances this season, hasn’t had the best start to his Celtic career and yet he still finds a way to be productive and change the match when his chances come. From the four forwards that Celtic have played this season, they have combined for a total of 13 goals in nine matches.
Everyone had been calling for Celtic to return to the 3-5-2 formation that brought them great success last season, and Neil Lennon has finally done so, however, it hasn’t been anywhere near as effective as it was last time around.
It sounds like a successful recipe on paper, but for a multitude of reasons, it hasn’t worked out very well so far. Perhaps the greatest problem has been the playmaking out of the midfield. Perhaps adding another more creative mind to the midfield arsenal like Tom Rogic could open things up a little bit more.
While St Johnstone is just the latest side to execute their defensive set-up very well, Celtic was able to squeeze past them late. With three good centre-halves when healthy, Celtic need to find a way to make the 3-5-2 formation work once again.
Celtic have struggled to find consistency this season, and it was apparent on Sunday. Olivier Ntcham and Mohamed Elyounoussi both disappointed with their inconsistent play on Sunday.
While Elyounoussi can be delightful at times, but his inconsistent play is frustrating. The Norwegian international did not play well on Sunday, and it was apparent that he needed to be subbed off. He finally made way for Leigh Griffiths after 76 minutes.
Ntcham was given a chance to reclaim his starting spot but disappointed majorly. The French midfielder didn’t really get into the game, picked up a yellow card, and came off in the 76th minute for a more lively Tom Rogic, who made his season debut.
The always lively and dangerous Jeremie Frimpong was kept at bay for much of the 90 minutes, while Greg Taylor had some troubles on the left side, culminating in a disappointing performance on both wings for Celtic.
Another disappointing display
It hasn’t been often this season where Celtic have actually looked good. More often than not Celtic has had to scrape by to get a win. It doesn’t matter how much possession they have, they still can’t manage to produce as many quality opportunities as in previous seasons.
Even the always reliable Odsonne Edouard wasn’t up to speed with things before being relieved of his duties by Patryk Klimala in the 59th minute. Perhaps a bit tired after playing 78 minutes on Thursday.
We’ve seen it in quite a few league matches and it even carried over to European qualification, which dumped Celtic into the Europa League. Drawn into such a difficult group in Europa League with AC Milan, Lille, and Sparta Prague, Celtic must improve if they want to find any further European success this season.