Michael Stewart believes Celtic looked a lot more threatening with James Forrest and Mohamed Elyounoussi in their natural positions.
In recent months, Celtic have been robbed of a natural right-winger. Due to the likes of Christie having to cover in Forrest’s absence, it’s at times led to Elyounoussi playing more centrally in a bid to get him into the team.
The problem? Celtic have lacked real width. The vast majority of their attacks have come through the middle. This allows packed opposition defences to squeeze our attacking threats out and limit the space. It’s particularly been an issue for us at Celtic Park – a venue at which we would normally look to stretch the opponent.
And Stewart believes he noticed Celtic finally becoming more unpredictable in their attacking movements with Forrest and Moi playing on either flank.
Speaking on BBC Sportsound yesterday, Stewart said: “One of the most interesting things I heard from John Kennedy there was talking about James Forrest with regards to disorganised positioning, and then exploiting the spaces.
“What I take from that is that they played a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. You’ve got Elyounoussi and you’ve got Forrest, and they’re not wingers that just stand on the touchline and they’re easy to pick up. They go and play in certain areas deliberately, clearly, to almost disrupt the opponents. To make it difficult for them to be marked.
“On occasions though, it does get to a situation where, when you seen earlier in the season, that they became very predictable and you knew that there were areas they weren’t going to attack. And I think now with the better players coming back, that ability to be able to go and hurt teams and attack the spaces has really come to the fore.”
Michael Stewart hits the nail on the head; importance of Moi and Forrest to Celtic can’t be undermined
Neil Lennon’s Celtic were at their most impressive last season when both Elyounoussi and Forrest were fit. So many of our goals came from the wide areas and it also tired teams out more easily.
That was evident against Livingston yesterday. For the first half-hour or so, Livi were competitive. They had plenty of energy about them and managed to close down the space. But Celtic simply managed to wear them down quicker with Forrest and Elyounoussi.
They managed this by simply making the pitch bigger. By introducing more width, that increases the space between the Livingston back four. Because they knew that they couldn’t leave the likes of Forrest and Moi unmarked. All the while that opened up space for the likes of Odsonne Edouard and David Turnbull to exploit centrally.
You can’t jot this down to coincidence. It’s not a case of luck that Celtic managed to score so many goals with their two natural wingers in position. With them both in play, Celtic had so many options to get at Livingston. Especially in the second half when the scoreline could’ve been anything.
What’s even more promising is that three of the six goals came from players you would expect to be part of the rebuild next season. Forrest got in on the act along with Turnbull and Ryan Christie respectively. One was an own goal whilst Moi got the other two. We would like to think Elyounoussi would also be part of next season’s squad too if a deal can be done.
But Stewart is spot on with what he’s saying. Celtic had so many options to exploit Livingston yesterday. It was great to see them thrive with it.