Summer signing can offer Celtic spark against Livi but there are lessons to remember
It’s widely expected at this point that Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou will start summer signing Giorgos Giakoumakis against Livingston tomorrow.
After all, the Greek striker was bang in form before succumbing to an illness. That caused him to miss games against Hibernian and St Mirren. Though the Hoops found a way in the latter of those fixtures, his presence, tireless running and first-time finishes would’ve been a benefit.
He was at his best against Dundee. A stunning hat-trick, even, a “perfect” hat-trick, showed his skill-set at its optimum. Giakoumakis thrives on chaos, hitting it instinctively and breaching the opposition goal. After a tricky start, that involved him missing a late penalty against the very side we’re facing tomorrow, he’s redeemed himself to many supporters.
There are lessons from our last trip to Livingston, though. Albian Ajeti played that day, coming off a decent run of form under Ange Postecoglou. With Kyogo injured, it was up to the Swiss striker to make a mark. He couldn’t, and it was a function of not being able to play to his strengths.
Ajeti ended up with just 16 touches; fine, considering he’s a low-usage, high-impact kind of player at his best. But in the second half, he was forced to come deeper, and he wasn’t getting shots away with any real venom [WhoScored?].
Crosses aplenty came in from either side, trying to aim at Ajeti’s head. It didn’t work; Livingston had him covered, and marked him out of the game. Relying on Giakoumakis, good as he is, to act as something of a target man? Well, it might have the same consequence.
Giakoumakis is a boost, but Celtic need to use him to his optimum
It sounds strange, but bear with me; one of Giakoumakis’ best performances for Celtic was against Rangers. Fine, he didn’t score, but the sheer pressure he put the Rangers defence under created opportunities for others. That led to corners and other opportunities.
Giakoumakis is more disruptive than Ajeti. He’s able to rough up defenders, press the opposition goalkeeper and bring others into play, far more than Ajeti has for Celtic. Relying on him to get his forehead on crosses as our primary attacking outlet isn’t the way to go, but the chaos he can cause could be massively beneficial.
If there’s attention on Giakoumakis as a physical threat, that can drag Livi defenders out of their rigid shape. They’re an organised defensive side, and keeping their shape will be of paramount importance to David Martindale.
Rather than necessarily being the physical threat, though, it’s that combined with energy and relentless enthusiasm to press that sets Giakoumakis apart. It’s what he can do as an aggressor, rather than a goalscorer outright, that could make the difference tomorrow.
Against Livingston in September, Ajeti didn’t quite have that bite to him. Giakoumakis has shown it in abundance.
He thrives on chaos. But it’ll be on him to provide the chaos, too.