Mikey Johnston verdict, Even Andy Walker stunned by Angeball; 3 things we learned from Sunday Celtic win

By Euan Davidson

December 5, 2021

Before Celtic kicked off against Dundee United at noon, there was understandable trepidation.

The Bhoys, after all, were spread thin. Some key players, not least Jota and Anthony Ralston, would miss this one. Dundee United, meanwhile, had beaten Rangers at home this season, and Thomas Courts’ side had taken a point from Celtic at Parkhead.

Yet, the Celts started comfortably, and it remained that way. Greg Taylor and Mikey Johnstone were finding each other on left, Juranovic and Forrest on the right. Turnbull and Rogic were linking up to decent effect, and Celtic peppered the Dundee United goal with some wicked deliveries, primarily from set-pieces.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

There was an inevitable breakthrough, and it may well be one of the goals of the season from Tom Rogic. Slaloming past countless Dundee United defenders, the Celtic midfielder scored a memorable goal. His midfield partner Turnbull was toiling, snatching at chances. But he found some inspiration to lift the ball over Siegrist’s head and make it 2-0.

The second half followed a similar theme, with Celtic controlling things. Dundee United did manage to bother Joe Hart once or twice, but it was the Hoops who were in utter control.

Liam Scales made it 3-0, and if there was any remaining doubt who’s game this was, there wasn’t any more.

So, what did we learn from an excellent afternoon for Celtic against Dundee United?

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Even Andy Walker was loving Celtic and Angeball against Dundee United

Andy Walker is – let’s just say – not everyone’s favourite pundit. However, he was proverbially purring at Celtic today against Dundee United.

From the off, Postecoglou’s tactics were spot-on. Celtic grabbed control and squeezed the life out of the game, tiring Dundee United who were chasing the ball all afternoon. But there was aggression, as well as possession. In the first half alone, Celtic had 8 corners [WhoScored?], such was the pressure being put on Dundee United.

Barely a pass was misplaced, and the runs being made by Johnston (who we’ll get to), Kyogo and Forrest (then Abada) were causing constant problems.

Walker couldn’t help but enjoy himself here. It was the kind of Celtic performance you could watch all day. Aggressive off the ball, composed and enterprising on it, Celtic were utterly superb.

There was a point, around 63 minutes, where he was particularly vocal about how Celtic turned a rare slack defensive moment into an opportunity to break for Tom Rogic.

Walker’s voice isn’t the one everyone wants to hear, sure. But what he was saying will have made any Celtic fan that bit happier.

Photo by Laszlo Szirtesi/Getty Images

Mikey Johnston causes trouble for Dundee United all afternoon

There’s no point pretending we won’t miss Jota for a few weeks. But when his replacement is doing rainbow flicks over Kieran Freeman’s head, it’s hard to feel too negative.

Johnston was the personification of confidence. Given the reaction to some of his more ineffective recent showings, that’s a very good sign.

For attacking players like Johnston, having a bit of gallus is everything. He was looking for opportunities, taking on his man with ease, and making life extremely difficult for Dundee United.

His final ball isn’t at Jota’s level, not yet. And of course, there’s still plenty for him to work on. But given his nightmare few years with injuries, displays like these are encouraging.

Even more encouragingly, he and Greg Taylor were working well in tandem, with the returning left-back facilitating MJ’s attacking tendencies through smart cover and passing.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

If Celtic were lacking squad depth, you wouldn’t know

Again, before this game, there were obvious nerves. Some key players missing, lots of fixtures ahead, and a tough venue.

It could’ve been a really difficult game for Celtic today. By all rights, it should have been a difficult game.

Sometimes being proven wrong is utter class. Although Dundee United did come into the game in the middle of the second half, Celtic never truly looked uncomfortable here. With a rousing Bhoys support at Tannadice, this genuinely felt like a home game for much of the 90 minutes.

While Joe Hart was called into action a couple of times, he’ll have had more difficult afternoons. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Starfelt were on hand to swat everything away. Juranovic on his natural side and the returning Greg Taylor both had fine games.

Then, Liam Scales made his league debut, after months of speculation about his role at the club. He scored a first-time finish to make it 3-0. That’s depth.

None of this means Celtic don’t still have to reinforce. Of course they do. Still, with all the games ahead of us before January, this game represented a statement of sorts from Celtic.

The statement is: Celtic are right in this title race, and carry plenty of threat.

Read more: Ange Postecoglou delivers bitter Celtic injury update at Tannadice