Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley has been singing the praises of Celtic’s off-ball running today.
The Hoops secured a fine 3-1 win over Kilmarnock this afternoon that stretched our advantage at the top of the Premiership to 12 points. Rangers’ 2-2 draw at St Johnstone earlier on gave Neil Lennon’s men an opportunity they were never going to pass up.
One notable aspect of the game was that Leigh Griffiths got back on the scoresheet once again. His goal followed first-half strikes from Kristoffer Ajer and Odsonne Edouard respectively. Once again, Griffiths and Edouard combined beautifully to set up the third of the afternoon.
And speaking in the BBC’s live text coverage of the game (23/02, 16:35), Livi man Bartley praised the Hoops’ tenacity.
“Celtic’s attacking play has been brilliant, but when they lose the ball, their hunger to get it back has been first-class. Everybody works hard to get it back.
“If the top team in the country can do it then no player is too good to work hard – Celtic have had that in abundance again.”
Hunger has set Celtic apart from the rest
Bartley is spot on to pick up on Celtic’s off-ball running. Kilmarnock started well this afternoon and managed to get an extra spring in their step after Eamonn Brophy’s sixth-minute opener. However, after that, they got next to no joy or time on the ball.
Killie often had to look long for Brophy as opposed to trying to play their way through Celtic. This was because there was such a hunger to win the ball back in the middle of the park that Alex Dyer’s side couldn’t cope.
In the end, Celtic’s back three of Kristoffer Ajer, Christopher Jullien, and Jozo Simunovic managed to limit Brophy after his penalty. They were aggressive this afternoon and did plenty of ball-winning.
Celtic’s intensity is shown in the stats since our return from the winter break too. We’ve now officially matched our league winning-run from last season after going eight games consecutively without slipping up.
Should Celtic manage a victory at Livingston on March 4th, we’ll end up overtaking it. That’s an incredible achievement considering how impressive and vital our winning run was 12 months ago. So Bartley is spot on – this isn’t a team that just allows their class to do the talking – they work hard for it too.