Stephen Welsh announces himself as a Celtic leader with superb showing vs AZ Alkmaar

By David Walton

August 18, 2021

There were plenty of standouts for Celtic against AZ Alkmaar tonight, but the man who deserves a special mention is none other than Stephen Welsh.

Welsh broke into the Celtic squad last season. However, there were plenty of chinks in his armour. Many went into pre-season this summer believing he was one of the players Celtic had to improve upon.

However, Ange Postecoglou has invested his trust in the academy graduate throughout the early stages of the campaign. Tonight, he did so again as Welsh produced a dominant performance to help keep a clean sheet and secure a vital 2-0 win against AZ Alkmaar.

The centre-back was playing alongside new signing Carl Starfelt. And once again he looked like the senior of the two with a mature, faultless display.

Welsh made some vital blocks on the night and at key moments in the game. He regularly cut out the service Teun Koopmeiners was looking to provide to the likes of Vangelis Pavlidis and Albert Gudmundsson respectively. The interceptions made by Welsh helped keep Celtic on top in the first 45 in particular as we seized control of the game.

Stephen Welsh showed class in all areas for Celtic against AZ Alkmaar

Yet it wasn’t just his interceptions and blocks either. Welsh’s distribution was exceptional throughout the contest. He seldom gave the ball away and helped ensure Celtic stayed as calm as possible at the back.

“Ange has Celtic playing the Dutch way” | AZ Alkmaar fan Anthony

“Ange has Celtic playing the Dutch way” | AZ Alkmaar fan Anthony

Welsh never looked to do anything overly fancy. He knew his role tonight. There were no Hollywood balls over the top of the AZ defence. No over-elaborate runs from the back that goes against his main attributes.

Instead, he kept it simple and effective. He stood his ground, read the play, and gave the ball to players more creative than himself.

It was an absolutely superb display from the academy graduate. All of a sudden, there’s an argument there to say he’s our best centre-back. At the moment, there’s nobody performing to as high a standard as Welsh.

And the supporters are growing appreciative of the incredible efforts he’s putting in under Postecoglou. Here’s a look at the reaction to another top display from the centre-back:

In other news, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou gives curt response to underdog tag in BBC interview pre-Alkmaar