Greg Taylor is one of few Celtic players whose stock has risen this season.
The ex-Killie left-back endured a slow start to his Celtic career. Behind Bolingoli last season, the Scottish defender looked out of sync with the tactical direction Neil Lennon had in mind. Not comfortable as a wide midfielder or wing-back, necessarily, Taylor fit a more traditional left-back role.
It would’ve done the job in recent years, but we were spoiled somewhat by Kieran Tierney. A defender who could truly do it all, KT moved to Arsenal and ever since then, left-back has been a problem area.
At the start of the league campaign, it looked as if time was running out for Taylor. Diego Laxalt was brought into replace the wayward Bolingoli, and was a must-pick for weeks afterwards. Yet, Taylor has worked away and carved himself a niche, becoming an excellent provider for the Bhoys.
To that end, he’s got to start on Sunday.
In 21 league appearances, Taylor has chipped in with 6 assists [Transfermarkt]. That’s a considerable creative output for a defender, let alone one who was uncertain of his attacking responsibilities. With John Kennedy preferring a 4-2-3-1 of sorts, with wide, attacking players, Taylor seems perfect for Sunday’s meeting with our fiercest rivals.
Greg Taylor brings a number of qualities to the table for Celtic, will be key in Glasgow Derby
The former Killie man is effective at either end of the pitch. His tackling stats per 90 are decent, at 1.5 per league outing [WhoScored?]. That’s a little less than Diego Laxalt, but Taylor concedes considerably fewer fouls than the Uruguayan. Against Rangers, set pieces from wide positions are going to be an area of concern.
Furthermore, getting forward, Taylor has been under-appreciated. He’s good for at least 1.5 key passes per game, which puts him in good company. In terms of defenders, he’s only bettered by his Gers counterpart Borna Barisic [WhoScored?].
His attacking runs are also important. He’s improved massively on his forward play, being fouled almost once a game. Those kinds of fouls can lead directly to opportunities, given the quality of service in Celtic’s ranks. He’s also capable of crossing with decent accuracy, and is more accurate with his passing than Diego Laxalt. It might seem small-fry, but these are match-winning interventions.
While it could seem like a dead heat between Taylor and Laxalt, the ex-Killie defender edges it, for me. Another sustained run of games after an injury scare could see the full-back prosper again for an improved Celtic side. With his improved confidence going forward, and ability to recover well out of possession, he’d surely be excellent foil for the red-hot Mohamed Elyounoussi.
It’s up to John Kennedy of course, but we’re setting the stall out: Greg Taylor should start on Sunday.