Kyogo missed, wasteful set-pieces; 3 things we learned as Celtic draw with St Mirren

By Euan Davidson

December 22, 2021

Well, in the end, we got a St Mirren v Celtic match to watch.

It was by no means a sure thing; the Buddies lobbied the SPFL for a postponement. Jim Goodwin’s side were supposedly decimated by Covid-19 cases, with Celtic in an awkward position.

Trips to Paisley can be tough regardless. The Hoops, though, could’ve been a bit nervous about this one. Nobody would’ve expected St Mirren to do anything tonight, what with their absences and lack of training. Celtic, missing the majority of our attack, would presumably be knackered after a gruelling schedule and a Premier Sports Cup Final.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

If you were expecting entertainment, your optimism ought to be bottled.

In a first-half that brought very little in terms of chances, St Mirren set up as you’d expect; men behind the ball, a low block and the mission to frustrate. As well they were entitled to, given the circumstances. Meanwhile for Celtic, it just wasn’t clicking. St Mirren keeper Dean Lyness was forced into some decent saves, and defended astutely despite the lack of familiarity between the players.

The second would follow a similar pattern. Celtic had plenty of the ball, but struggled to break the Buddies down. There were some decent individual performances, but it was a frustrating watch.

Hibernian 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction

Hibernian 1-2 Celtic | LIVE Reaction
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

This has to go down as a massive missed opportunity. St Mirren were undoubtedly there for the taking, and whether it was complacency or just lack of invention, Celtic couldn’t get it done.

So what did we learn from a frustrating night in Paisley?

Influence of Kyogo and David Turnbull on Celtic even more obvious when they’re out the team

Oh Kyogo. How we miss thee.

The Japanese sensation was left out tonight, and in hindsight, it was probably a game he could’ve been risked for. While Liel Abada had performed well against Ross County, Celtic missed several decent chances tonight.

With Kyogo, they might not have. In a stodgy game, the Japanese striker’s movement and ability to see non-existent space could have been a real boost.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Tom Rogic had one heck of a task tonight.

Without David Turnbull, who came off against Hibernian during the Premier Sports Cup Final, Rogic was essentially the sole central creator. While McGregor is capable of an assist or two, it was the Aussie who was looked upon to make space and chances.

It was a tough watch. Not because Rogic was bad, per se, but because perhaps we didn’t appreciate the influence of David Turnbull.

The former Motherwell man was notable in his absence. Set piece deliveries were plentiful not often of much quality. Rogic, alone, couldn’t unpick a St Mirren defence with numbers in abundance. And it’s clear that if we’re going to need to rest Rogic and/or Turnbull at any given time, we need creative midfielders as a matter of urgency.

With St Mirren setting up to pack the middle, and Celtic not getting much joy out of the wings, Turnbull could’ve thrived in a game like this. It’s a fixture that, after all, he does quite enjoy [BBC].

Here’s hoping we don’t miss Turnbull or Kyogo for long; we really needed them tonight.

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Winter break announcement comes at bad time for Ange Postecoglou after announcing Celtic team-sheet

Ange Postecoglou obviously wanted to rest players tonight. Given the exertions of the Premier Sports Cup Final, it made sense; goal hero Kyogo clearly wasn’t 100% fit, Joe Hart was left out entirely, Josip Juranovic was on the bench.

But you have to wonder what the team would’ve looked like if the SPFL hadn’t dithered over the Winter break. With only St Stephen’s Day to come, Postecoglou might’ve made a couple of risks, as he did on Sunday. We won on Sunday, is the thing.

Now, this isn’t to criticise Postecoglou at all. How was he meant to know that news would emerge right before kick-off? The whole thing was a joke.

And it’s not to suggest there’s some kind of conspiracy against us either. It’s just… at best, it’s incredibly inopportune. The Celtic starting XI would’ve been significantly different, you’d suspect, had we known about the schedule changes.

But that doesn’t excuse what really is a poor result.

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Celtic fail to make set piece chances pay against St Mirren

Celtic had 12 corners by the 79th minute. Add to that a litany of free kicks in great areas, and it’s a wonder as to how the Hoops didn’t take advantage from any of them.

Now, admittedly, we were missing our best set-piece taker in David Turnbull. However, when Josip Juranovic came on, there was a clear upgrade in terms of delivery. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t enough. Good as he can be from dead ball situations, no such luck for him tonight.

Going forward, we’re going to have more games like this. Teams like St Mirren, Livingston et al are going to sit back and allow things to happen. That includes set pieces.

The Hoops need to be more clinical. Whether it’s routines, or personnel, something isn’t clicking. We could’ve had this game away easily with more invention from dead ball situations.

Frustrating stuff.

Read more: Celtic, Scottish Premiership clubs have winter break brought forward; new Glasgow derby date