Celtic winger Jota addresses Livingston's artificial surface

By David Walton

September 18, 2021

Celtic winger Jota brilliantly dismissed any fears over playing on an artificial surface for the first time in his professional career tomorrow.

The Hoops take the trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena tomorrow, and it’s a venue that’s caused us tremendous bother over the last two campaigns. Celtic have failed to win at the venue ever since the West Lothian club’s promotion to the Premiership in 2018.

Many believe the poor results at the Tony Macaroni to be down to the fact Celtic have struggled to play on the artificial surface. It’s a prospect hated by most players, and it remains to be seen how the new players adapt to the Livi turf tomorrow.

Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

One of the players who will be watched closely is new Celtic man Jota. However, he’s provided a class response to the prospect of playing on artificial grass as he dismissed any fears regarding performing on the surface.

As quoted by the Daily Record, Jota said: “Have I played on an artificial pitch? No. Not in the first league but when I was younger I did play on a lot of astros.

“I think we will be okay for sure. Whatever it is, we just have to play football. If it is on astro, it is on astro. If it is on normal grass, it is on normal grass. As a Celtic player, at this massive club, you cannot have excuses. We just have to be in the games to win it.”

Celtic can take a big step under Ange tomorrow

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Celtic can take a big step under Ange tomorrow
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Jota refuses to get the pre-match excuse out; Celtic must deal with artificial surface better

This is brilliant to hear from the new Benfica loan star. It would be easy for him to start complaining about the prospect of playing on plastic. He could’ve easily talked up its difficulties like so many other seem to do.

We’re like any other at 67HailHail. We don’t believe there’s any place for pitches of that standard in the Premiership either. But consistently hearing it being made as an excuse is frustrating at times.

Firstly, scoring goals and creating chances has never been a problem in Livingston. In our last two trips to West Lothian, the Hoops have managed to net two goals in both matches. It’s the lack of efficiency when it comes to dealing with their physicality that’s been a major problem for us.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In the past, we’ve been far too easily bullied off the likes of Lyndon Dykes and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, if that’s who Ange Postecoglou goes for at the back, need to show their dominance in the air and do the basics right.

It wasn’t the pitch that stopped the Celtic defence from keeping out a basic cross that led to Emmanuel-Thomas’ equaliser in our last meeting. It wasn’t the pitch that led to us losing a free header in our own box to Ciaran Brown either. These are basic defensive errors that have cost us.

Secondly, our rivals continuously find ways to win here. If we want to be taken seriously as title contenders this year, we need to dig out results at places like this. It’s great to see Jota have the same attitude, especially coming from a player so used to keeping the ball on the deck.

In other news, Celtic midfielder James McCarthy finally deemed “good to go” by Ange Postecoglou