Neil Lennon's striker decision must land on Odsonne Edouard

By David Walton

March 26, 2019

Neil Lennon is yet to really decide on a number one striker if his team selections have been anything to go by.

But Sunday’s clash against Rangers must see him land on only one option – Odsonne Edouard.

This isn’t just down to the fact Edouard has scored three goals against Rangers in three apparances. Nor is it down to the fact that he’s saved Lennon’s skin on two occasions against Hearts and Dundee respectively.

Both of those stats certainly help, but when it comes to the Rangers defence, Edouard is the man with the package to run them riot.

Odsonne Edouard has three goals against Rangers in three games (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Lennon has, on three occasions, started with Oliver Burke up top since becoming interim manager. He’s been following on from Brendan Rodgers’ plan of playing Burke as a lone striker.

But after a gruelling trip with Scotland, combined with the fact Burke has struggled in recent matches for the Hoops – Edouard has to be handed the jersey.

Burke also has to improve on his first-touch too. Whilst Edouard’s is hardly world-class, he has much better ball-control than Burke. That’s going to be crucial in staying up the pitch and keeping the pressure on Rangers.

Celtic tend to play well when Edouard features vs Rangers

At Ibrox back in December, Celtic seriously struggled without his presence up top. It was only after he came on in the closing stages that chances started to develop. His quick feet combined with his physical presence will prove a huge problem for Rangers.

Whilst Edouard also didn’t have the best game against Rangers in September, he played a key part in the winner. The 1-0 success that day was executed courtesy of an Olivier Ntcham strike. But it was some cute control and a timely pass from Edouard to Forrest that helped set the goal up.

Edouard played a big part in Olivier Ntcham’s winner at Parkhead back in September (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Despite being quiet on the day, he provided a crucial piece of quality when the situation demanded it. Just like he did at Tynecastle. Just like he did at Dens Park.

Edouard is a big-game player for Celtic. Burke and Timothy Weah should remain as the supporting cast on Sunday, although an extensive period of game-time for the latter would be ideal.

When Lennon picks his starting XI this weekend, it simply can’t afford not to have Edouard in it. If it does, he’s opening himself up to unwanted and unnecessary criticism.