Celtic's back-to-back derby dominance merits cause for optimism despite results

By David Walton

March 21, 2021

It was yet more disappointment for Celtic in the Glasgow derby this afternoon after they let Rangers away with a point.

For the second successive clash between the side, the Hoops were the dominant team. Moi Elyounoussi and Alfredo Morelos traded goals, but it was the Bhoys who had the lion’s share of opportunities. That Celtic ended the game with 16 shots to Rangers’ nine was a fair reflection of the game [BBC].

Granted, come full-time, none of us were pleased. It was our fourth consecutive derby without a win. That’s totally unacceptable for this football club and it’s ultimately played a part in why Neil Lennon is out of a job. It’s also part of why John Kennedy likely won’t get it either.

But when the rawness of the missed opportunity fades, we’ll recognise that there were some big positives to take from today’s game.

Rangers, for all of their on-field success this season, don’t have the same grip of these derbies as they did between December 2019 and October 2020.

Celtic players are proving they can boss Rangers in general play

Many of these Celtic players, and ones scheduled to be here next season, are proving they can step up to the plate. The likes of Stephen Welsh, Scott Brown, Callum McGregor, and Ryan Christie were all vibrant this afternoon.

In the game at Ibrox that was one-way traffic before Nir Bitton’s red card, the Hoops were again in total control. That was a contest bossed by Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull in particular.

Celtic are proving, despite the results, that they have the players to dominate Rangers. That the quality is still there and whatever grip they had on how these derbies play out is fading.

Rangers have gone four derbies unbeaten now, and had bossed the first three of those. That now isn’t the case with Celtic starting to find their rhythm in this fixture again. That will give our rivals some cause for concern. They won’t be satisfied with how they’ve been dominated in the last two matches.

When we look back on what cost us this afternoon, we won’t be ruing Rangers’ quality. We’ll be looking in at ourselves. We’ll be fixated on our failure to deal with a simple cross ball – Rangers’ only big chance of the game. Ultimately, we’ll be ruing missing big opportunities at 1-0 to put the game to bed.

Moi Elyounoussi scores against Rangers (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Not the same issues plaguing Celtic in this fixture

These are different concerns to what we were highlighting a year ago. It used to be the case that we were left furious with our failure to boss the midfield. That we lacked fight and pace in the engine room to deal with Rangers’ midfield.

Yes, we’ll lose players in the summer. Odsonne Edouard and Kris Ajer in particular look like going. But we have such a strong back-bone to this squad that has proven it can compete against Rangers.

Yes it’s another painful one this afternoon, but the performances in these fixtures are improving. That, at the very least, is huge cause for optimism next season.

In other news, a BBC pundit wants new Celtic manager in immediately.