Celtic dropped their second consecutive Glasgow Derby defeat to Steven Gerrard’s Rangers on home turf.
Neil Lennon was forced to deal without Odsonne Edouard, James Forrest, Ryan Christie, Nir Bitton, Hatem Abd Elhamed, and Christopher Julien.
With the long list of Celtic absentees, this opened the door for a rare chance for 20-year-old Stephen Welsh, who joined four others from the Hoops in making their Glasgow Derby debut as Diego Laxalt also got his first start since coming on loan from AC Milan.
The visitors had the 1-0 advantage at the break after Connor Goldson’s eighth-minute header was the only goal. Celtic’s greatest chance came minutes after Goldson’s goal when Mohamed Elyounoussi’s glorious opportunity missed badly.
Goldson added a second for Rangers in the 54th minute after several deflections allowed the ex-Brighton center half to put the ball into the back of the net with great composure.
Celtic’s first loss of the season keeps them behind Rangers in second place but now trail their crosstown rival by four points.
Celtic will look to return to winning when they host AC Milan for the opening match of their Europa League Group Stage campaign.
That Celtic team that played on Saturday was absolutely shocking. No urgency, no intensity. Not a Celt can leave that field feeling alright with how they played. Perhaps Scott Brown was the best of the bunch, but even he had trouble connecting passes at times and certainly didn’t provide the quality that was needed going forward.
For the third consecutive derby, Celtic got outplayed. Such little quality in the attacking areas with just two real chances missed by Elyounoussi and Griffiths.
To be fair, this result shouldn’t come as a surprise. With all the poor performances we’ve seen from the Hoops this season, this isn’t shocking, however, a bit more urgency and fight would have been beneficial.
Once again, the Ranger midfield won the midfield battle. The visitors had a strong grip on the match, and while they didn’t create too many chances against a pretty solid Celtic defense, they were the key to Celtic’s lack of creativity.
Both Frimpong and Laxalt struggled to get provide any decent service from the wide areas while McGregor, Ntcham, and Brown had a hard time finding good pockets of space to keep possession.
Even when Rogic came on looking to spark some more creativity, he was nonexistent. Had Ryan Christie been available, it makes you wonder how different things might have been.
Celtic’s attack was nonexistent on Saturday. Even with no shortage of attacking options, the missing link between the midfield and the forwards was clear.
Odsonne Edouard has shown the ability to do that at times, but his absence was a big miss. Ryan Christie is another invaluable key part of the success of the Celtic attack, a player Celtic has to have on the field as much as possible in order to produce chances.
Celtic have to find a way to have a cohesive attack whenever the likes of Edouard and Christie are unavailable. McGregor and Ntcham haven’t played well lately, so maybe it is time to give David Turnbull more chances.
Lennon on the Hot Seat?
Simply not showing well in the last three Glasgow Derbies, at some point, Neil Lennon must take charge and address the issues in the midfield. He still has yet to do so. He has been out-coached by Steven Gerrard, yet again.
Even with so many players unavailable, Celtic was still plenty capable of giving Rangers a good game. As many were calling for an alternative to Greg Taylor, Lennon went out and got Diego Laxalt on loan, inserting him straight into the starting XI. I don’t think there can be many more complaints about his team selection.
The biggest problem on Saturday was his substitutions. It was clear that changes needed to be made at halftime, yet he waited until after Rangers’ second goal to make his first change. With that being said, the poor form to start the season is worrying and Neil Lennon is certainly coming close to putting himself on the hot seat.