Impressive Celtic stat showcases the importance of absent defensive duo
On Sunday afternoon, Celtic suffered their first Scottish Premiership defeat in 38 games at the hands of St Mirren.
The Bhoys put in an unfamiliar display, with Ange Postecoglou’s side failing to really test Buddies goalkeeper Trevor Carson all afternoon.
Postecoglou is also likely to be disappointed in the manner his squad lost the two goals, which allowed Stephen Robinson and his team to take home all three points.
After such a brilliant start to the domestic campaign, we head into the international break on a frustrating and disappointing note.
Of course, with around two weeks until the Hoops are back in competitive action, the Celtic support are likely to be providing their opinions and assessing the downfalls from last weekend’s defeat.
In the immediate aftermath of the 2-0 loss, one of the main issues that many fans felt contributed to the Bhoys’ downfall on Sunday was the number of changes made to the Celtic starting 11.
Whilst some of those changes were by choice from Ange Postecoglou, there were also a few that were caused by injury knocks to key players.
The most prominent name missing from the trip to Paisley was central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers.
And the American internationalist wasn’t the only defensive option that the Celtic manager was missing from selection, with Carl Starfelt remaining out due to the knee injury sustained in the 4-0 win over Rangers.
Both Carter-Vickers and Starfelt were mainstays of the Celtic backline last campaign, helping lead Postecoglou’s side to the best defensive record in the Scottish Premiership during the league and cup double success.
So far this campaign, last season’s first-choice centre-back pairing has only featured alongside one another on a handful of occasions due to further injury issues to the Swedish defender.
However, in the two league games, Starfelt has started, Postecoglou’s side has come away with a victory.
Whilst Mortiz Jenz and Stephen Welsh have stepped up at the beginning of the new season, showcasing their ability to play alongside Carter-Vickers, yesterday’s performance against St Mirren might just have shown the importance of the absent defensive duo.
Especially when you consider that when Carter-Vickers and Starfelt have been partnered in the Celtic back four, they are still yet to lose as a league match, dating back to last September last year.
On the domestic front, in total, they have only tasted defeat whilst starting together on one occasion in the extra-time Scottish cup defeat against Rangers. But, from a league point of view, that is yet to happen.
Having only both arrived at Celtic Park last summer, the defensive duo have quickly struck up an extremely effective partnership, and the statistics prove that is the case.
Despite the disappointment coming away from Sunday’s defeat, I still have no doubt that Jenz and Welsh will be valuable defensive options for Ange Postecoglou going forward.
However, it may also have shown precisely why Carter-Vickers and Starfelt should be first-choice at this moment in time when both players return from their injury issues.
Postecoglou will be hoping to have the defensive pairing back in time for the beginning of October, with another hectic fixture schedule to come in the next two months.
We might not have known it before, but at this stage, I think it is fair to say that Carter-Vickers and Starfelt are the first-choice centre-back pairing at Celtic.