Celtic are nine points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership once again after a 2-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall this afternoon.
It was a competitive contest in the Highlands but the Bhoys found their way to victory from a Jota spot-kick just prior to half-time. Alexandro Bernbaei then fired in a stunner from outside the box in stoppage time. Celtic created by far the most chances across the 90 minutes and although County gave it a good go in the second half, the Bhoys fully deserved their victory.
There’s lots to discuss, especially ahead of a massive league derby this weekend but what were the big takeaways from today? Here are three of ours…
Tomoki Iwata’s first Celtic start
There was always going to be a spotlight on Iwata today considering it was his first time in the starting eleven, after seven substitute appearances. When considering his day, there are multiple aspects to discuss.
Firstly, as an individual, you can tell he has talent. He’s solid in duels, has a nice touch, good awareness and isn’t going to be intimidated by the physicality of the Scottish Premiership. As he gets up to speed, I reckon he’ll be able to play a bit too.
One issue with the midfield today was less about Iwata as a player and more that we just missed the well-oiled role Callum McGregor plays at the base of the midfield. McGregor played in a more advanced but less influential role, so wasn’t readily available to take possession from our defenders and transition our play from the back into the opposition half – County found some joy with this, pressing well, particularly at the start of the second half.
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It says more about how important McGregor is as that anchor for Celtic than it does about Iwata’s display, but the captain remains crucial for us there and hopefully he returns to that position next week against Rangers. Ange Postecoglou will undoubtedly give Iwata the time to fully adjust to the team and that’s when we’ll see the best of him.
To Iwata’s credit, he did finish the game strongly after substitutions were made and will likely take great confidence from his first full game in a Celtic shirt.
Greg Taylor injury concern
Many fans will be looking for an update on Greg Taylor in the coming hours and days ahead of the fixture against Rangers. He collided with an opponent in the second half and had to be replaced. The hope will be it’s just a dead leg of sorts and not a serious knock.
He would be a massive miss for the derby. Alexandro Bernabei, his replacement, has potential and scored a wonder goal today but Taylor would just offer us so much more against the Ibrox side. We’ll need one of our best players this season at the top of his game for that one.
Keep all your fingers crossed that the Scotland international is simply nursing a sore one. We’ll obviously bring you an update on that as soon as we can on 67 Hail Hail.
Again, the beauty of the Celtic bench was readily apparent today. Along with Bernabei’s scoring impact, Hyeongyu Oh added a real spark to the performance, as did Sead Haksabanovic. We needed it too.
County were coming back into the game before Ange made his substitutions. After the switch-up, Celtic were finding a lot of space and combinations in the opposition half, as they searched for an equaliser.
Hard work was put into the game by our starters to allow this, but it’s great to see subs come on and play so well for umpteenth time this season.
Postecoglou has emphasised it many times, but we truly are playing a squad game this season and it’s really helping us on this relentless winning streak.