Abada reality, full-hearted fringe; 3 things we learned from Sunday Celtic win vs St Johnstone
Celtic have entered the Scottish Premiership winter break in winning form after comfortably beating St Johnstone 3-1 at McDiarmid Park this afternoon.
Despite a lack of atmosphere due to no away fans, as well as a dreadful pitch and depleted squad, Ange Postecoglou’s Bhoys came through the test to pick up a crucial three points.
So what can we take from today’s action both in terms of specific players and the direction of Celtic in general? Here are three talking points we’ve picked out from the 90 minutes…
The Liel Abada reality
Liel Abada might not be a suitable striker for every Celtic game. He may be a frustrating winger at times. However, in a match like today, he is always going to get chances. And he has the ability to stick them away.
St Johnstone played a bit higher up the pitch than St Mirren did on Wednesday night, giving Abada the chance to play off the shoulder and make the kind of movement that terrorises defences.
He’s been deeply criticised at points this season but the fact remains he now has 10 goals and eight assists in Celtic colours. That’s a fantastic output at the halfway point of the campaign, especially from a young player moving countries.
Inconsistency was always inevitable with the Israeli international, but he’s well worth his place in the squad. For Postecoglou it’s now about figuring out whether he’s better off used as a striker on a more permanent basis or as a winger.
It’s clear that the players on the fringe of the Celtic first-team are relishing working under Ange Postecoglou. If they weren’t enjoying training or had their heads down then we would not have seen some of them play with the urgency and intent they did today.
James McCarthy, for example, was excellent in the middle of the park in the absence of leader Callum McGregor while Liam Scales didn’t stop trying all afternoon.
Let’s be clear, St Johnstone are in rough shape. However, getting through a match like today’s with so many squad issues is a testament to the work Ange and his coaching staff are doing at Lennoxtown.
It bodes well for when we are full strength again.
With two assists this afternoon, Tom Rogic again demonstrated he is the creative heartbeat of this team even when players such as Kyogo aren’t on the pitch.
His control of the ball and pass through to Abada in the first half was lovely, while the weight of his square ball to Nir Bitton set the midfielder up beautifully for a rare goal.
While the Australian is in this team we’re always going to create chances. It’s more about other players putting them away than worrying about Rogic’s output.
With another 90 minutes in the bag, the wizard is proving to be a very reliable presence this season.