Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley labels Celtic "fantastic" ahead of Saturday meeting
Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley couldn’t hide his admiration for Celtic’s quality as he reviewed the Hoops’ 5-0 win in Dingwall on Saturday.
Celtic produced their most complete domestic performance of the season so far at the weekend. Odsonne Edouard, Albian Ajeti, Shane Duffy, Kris Ajer, and Patryk Klimala made up five different scorers in the Highlands as Neil Lennon’s men begin to click.
The scoreline came despite the fact Celtic also had as many as 14 players away on international duty. All five scorers at the weekend were with their respective nations too.
And Bartley admitted that you need more than luck to be able to get a result against the Hoops. Ahead of his Livingston side’s trip to Parkhead this weekend, the former Hibs man said the following on BBC Sportsound:
“It’s a horrible travel (going up to Dingwall), it really really is. Celtic will be absolutely delighted to go up there and win 5-0 because so many teams do come unstuck there. It’s a long old journey.
“Ross County are normally very good at home so to win the game 5-0…and it makes a statement as well because Rangers won 4-0 so Celtic don’t just want to win 1-0. They’ve gone one better and won 5-0. So it’s brilliant for the league, but it’s not brilliant for me playing for Livingston because we play them next!
“For everyone else who’s watching it’s fantastic to have the two top teams really going at it. But Celtic are fantastic, if they do turn it on then you need more than luck to get anything from the game.”
A terrific display but gaps were still there
Lennon will be the first to say that there are improvements to be made after Saturday’s Dingwall rout. As impressive as it was, there was still the odd concern as the full-time whistle went.
Vasilis Barkas had three tremendous stops as he showed why he was brought to the club from AEK Athens over the summer. However, the fact he had to make those saves, as well as County hitting the post twice, shows that there are still defensive leaks needing to be plugged.
However, it would also be ignorant to dismiss the fact that Celtic had a new back three playing in the Highlands. Christopher Jullien and Kris Ajer may know each other as well as anyone, but adding new Bhoy Shane Duffy into the mix makes it a new back-line.
It’s also worth accepting that, so long as Celtic do go with a 3-5-2 with their wing-backs bombing forward, there will still be gaps for other teams to exploit on the counter. That’s just the nature of that specific shape, but the fact it gets the best out of us going forward makes it worth sticking by.
Celtic now have a trip to St Mirren on Wednesday night before the meeting with Bartley’s Livi, and you can’t see the gaffer playing anything other than a 3-5-2 in both of those matches.
Many will say the XI Celtic put out on Saturday was the strongest team we have. That alone is exciting as Lennon’s side prepares to motor at a crucial point in the season.