Celtic were always going to find Livingston tricky.
Martindale’s side were on incredible form in the build-up to this game, while Celtic had to make a litany of changes.
Rogic started alone up front, with returns for Nir Bitton and, rather surprisingly, Anthony Ralston. The Bhoys, understandably, looked disjoined throughout.
Celtic were barely able to make any clear-cut chances against a stubborn defence, with Guthrie and Ambrose ably dealing with the Bhoys’ makeshift frontline.
Here are 3 things we noticed from Celtic v Livingston.
Celtic find no joy against Livingston high press
On the 71st minute, there was a perfect example of what Livingston did right in this game. Attacking the left-hand side, Frimpong had enjoyed some time and space, looking to launch a counter.
He was eventually hounded out of possession by two Livingston defenders, and that was the story throughout today’s match.
Whether it’s tactical unfamiliarity, with so many fringe players involved, or just naïveté, Celtic players weren’t making enough runs for each other, providing options to beat the press.
Livingston’s defending was resolute throughout, with Devlin in particular playing well.
However, with respect to Livi, Celtic should be beating teams like this. There wasn’t enough spirit, enough support for the player on the ball.
Celtic youngster frustrated as Inverted Winger
Mikey Johnston has been long-heralded by Celtic fans. In a role primarily set up to support Tom Rogic, the academy graduate had to sit further inside to be used as an inverted winger.
There were promising signs, with occasionally promising link-up play involving Diego Laxalt. But after 65 minutes, he’d ran himself into the ground.
With three dribbles, and a pass completion rate of 75%, it wasn’t the most fruitful outing for Johnston. Simply put, he needs to stay out wider, if Celtic are to get the best of him.
We said before the match that Celtic would need to use their width and exploit Livingston’s weakness in defending crosses.
Neither Johnston nor Frimpong were able to facilitate in a way that could’ve effectively utilised the height of Tom Rogic, and that kept Celtic opportunities at a premium.
It’s a shame he couldn’t make more of an impact on this occasion, but at least there were signs of adaptability and tactical flexibility from the young winger.
Rogic’s lack of touches shows influence of Edouard
In the first half, Tom Rogic only managed a whopping 7 touches of the ball. Not to criticise the big Australian, who had to play in an unfamiliar position. But it shows just how important Odsonne Edouard is to our attacking play.
An underrated attribute of the Frenchman’s is his stamina. Willing to come deep to collect the ball, Edouard has the lungs to facilitate moves as well as finish them. For example, Eddy managed 37 touches in total against Dundee United (WhoScored?). Next to him, Griffiths got as many as 40.
While yes, this is stat-heavy, hipster football stuff, it shows the direct impact of mobile, hard-working strikers. Edouard has had plenty of critics this season, but even when he doesn’t score, he keeps things moving much more fluidly for Celtic.