McCarthy verdict, one player needs dropped; 3 things we learned from Celtic win over Aberdeen

By John McGinley

November 28, 2021

Celtic have managed to pick up a vital three points at home to Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon.

Goals from Jota and Callum McGregor secured the 2-1 win. It wasn’t exactly a classic at Celtic Park, but in the midst of this busy run any victory is a job well done.

After Thursday night’s tough match away to Bayer Leverkusen, the energy levels were overall good from the team up against a physical Aberdeen side, which bodes well moving forward.

So what did we learn from the encounter? Here are three things we’re taking from the win…

James McCarthy is still not quite there but today could be the start

There was a lot of pressure on James McCarthy’s shoulders today given it was his first start in over two months. His only other Premiership starts came against Dundee United and Livingston, matches that Celtic dropped points in.

The former Crystal Palace man didn’t look sharp again in the first half but it was after the interval his influence began to show.

Celtic on verge of first January signing, as Hatate says his goodbyes | Celtic vs Aberdeen Preview

Celtic on verge of first January signing, as Hatate says his goodbyes | Celtic vs Aberdeen Preview
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Celtic were well in control of the fixture after half-time, which McCarthy certainly played his part in.

It was also the Irishman’s excellent through ball into the box that led to the bizarre second goal that cannoned in off of Callum McGregor.

There’s a long way to go for the 31-year-old at Celtic but today was a decent showing and the start of what is hopefully a fruitful journey after fitness issues.

James Forrest remains more effective than Liel Abada

It’s become quite clear to me that Forrest is the viable right winger we need going forward, ahead of Liel Abada in the pecking order.

I don’t have any real gripe with Abada – he’s a young player still developing who has still made a good impact this season.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But he does need to be dropped now for Forrest, who offers far more at both ends of the pitch in a Celtic shirt.

We can’t grumble too much about Forrest’s absence from the starting line-up today. Ange explained pre-match this was due to him just combine back from injury and the fact they don’t want to put too much load onto him. That’s fine.

However, I would love to see Forrest now start the majority of matches going forward, at Abada’s expense.

Winning ugly is very much acceptable right now

Today was a match we’ve seen a million times before at Celtic Park as the air grows colder and darkness falls before five o’clock. This is a critical stage of the season and the most important thing is the points.

Celtic aren’t going to play classy, thrilling football all season in every match. It’s just not the way the Scottish Premiership works. Winning ugly is absolutely fine.

Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The Bhoys were well in control of that second half today. I never had any real fear we would drop points or, worse, that Aberdeen would win.

Our most effective player right now, Jota, came to the fore at critical times and threatened Aberdeen. Ultimately it’s that kind of impact that will get us over the line in these games. If we can do that until the transfer window we’ll be in good shape for the second half of the season.

In other news, Ange explains Celtic team selection vs Aberdeen, squad health and rotation.