Three lessons Neil Lennon must learn from last Hibernian meeting
Hibernian are one of only two domestic teams who have stopped Neil Lennon and Celtic from winning so far this season.
Paul Heckingbottom’s men held us 1-1 in late September in a result that kickstarted a run of five consecutive draws for the Leith outfit. While that stretch tells you that they’re struggling to win matches, they’re also not losing.
If you take the Betfred Cup quarter-final penalties victory over Kilmarnock into account, the Hibees are unbeaten in six straight matches.
Lennon must take them seriously. And he must learn from three key mistakes from that Easter Road outing.
Play Ryan Christie in the middle
Lennon tried to shoehorn Olivier Ntcham into September’s meeting. The Frenchman had been knocking on the door after a terrific two-goal appearance in the cup success over Partick Thistle, and a gaffer felt that he couldn’t have him sit on the bench.
His inclusion meant that Ryan Christie dropped out to the left of midfield – where he has far less of an impact on the game. Christie may have scored a terrific headed equaliser but he wasn’t the same player we’ve seen in other games this season.
Quite simply, he must play in the centre at Hampden.
Don’t take off Odsonne Edouard
Lennon’s most controversial decision on a disappointing afternoon was to remove Odsonne Edouard with 20 minutes to go. The prolific frontman had endured a tough afternoon but his presence alone was enough to give our players a lift.
Lennon replaced him with Vakoun Issouf Bayo who soon missed a decent chance late on in the game. Thankfully, Lennon is highly unlikely to repeat his mistake this time. That’s mainly because he won’t have any other strikers on the bench.
Don’t bring Jonny Hayes on if we’re chasing the game
Jonny Hayes is a reliable Celtic player. He’s never let the club down badly. But bringing him on as a super sub isn’t fair on anyone.
Back in September, the Irishman was Lennon’s first roll of the dice. He replaced Ntcham and went on to miss a terrific close-range chance in the dying embers of the game.
The 32-year-old is a fine winger and the ideal man to bring on against weary legs. He proved his usefulness at Ibrox when Rangers were pushing forward. But bringing him on against a packed defence just isn’t the answer. Especially when we’ve got the likes of Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic around.