Celtic have had their fair share of injuries throughout the season. But at the moment, they might be starting to get out of hand to the point where Ange Postecoglou might be left scrambling for options. Since the start of December, we have seen the likes of Jota, Anthony Ralston, Stephen Welsh, James Forrest, Kyogo Furuhashi, and Albian Ajeti all picking up problems.
It is safe to say that Postecoglou must have been proud of the never-give-up attitude that his side showed against Ross County. It was not easy with the amount of first-team stars who were out with injuries, and on top of that, they were a man down as well following Starfelt’s red card.
Celtic had looked down and out against Ross County. For most of the night, it had looked like Celtic were going to drop points and let the Rangers extend their lead at the top of the table. Liel Abada had gotten a goal early in the first half for Celtic and the first 45 minutes looked comfortable for Ange Postecoglou’s side. But things took a turn in the second half as Ross County got their goal back. And with Carl Starfelt getting a red card and a very harsh one at that, it looked like Ange Postecoglou’s side was set to drop two points on the night, if not three. But even when down to 10 men, Celtic did not appear to give up. And they got their reward for that with Anthony Ralston scoring the winner very deep in stoppage time.
The above visual shows us Celtic’s line-up from their previous game against Motherwell the week before. Celtic started with a front three of James Forrest, Turnbull, and Liel Abada. They started with Greg Taylor and Juranovic as their full-backs for the game.
Celtic have done tremendously well when you consider the situation that they find themselves in right now. But one has to admit that their form is slowly but surely starting to fade away. And that is not a surprise when you consider the fact that four full-backs Juranovic, Montgomery, Liam Scales, and Anthony Ralston were in the starting XI at the same time against Ross County.
Celtic made only three changes to the lineup but had a lot of players playing in new positions for them. Both Montgomery and Juranovic were playing as wide forwards while Turnbull played a deeper role in the midfield. Postecoglou just does not have a lot of options available to him right now.
Liel Abada usually plays on the flanks for Celtic, but with the absence of Furuhashi as well as Jota, he had to play through the centre against Ross County. Abada got the first goal of the match and also generated the highest xG with the two efforts he had on goal. Both his shots on goal were on target and the young forward proved to be effective in the final third. Despite playing in a deeper role, Turnbull had the most shots on goal and had an xG of 0.44 in the game.
Juranovic has been playing as a left-back in most of the games that he has played for Celtic and was playing in an advanced role on the right flank for the first time. The Croatian full-back had a high xT from his passes that he attempted from the right flank and put in several crosses into the penalty area.
Celtic attempted a lot of efforts on the opposition goal and kept attacking the Ross County goal. They managed to get seven shots on target. But most of these efforts were from outside the penalty area which made them less effective. Celtic did not have a proper centre-forward, which mattered, because at times they did not have a striker in proper positions inside the penalty area.
There is no doubt about the fact that there are a lot of injuries at Celtic right now. But one of the biggest reasons behind that is the lack of squad depth at the club at the moment. Several players have had to play quite a lot of constant football as a result of it, and this has only made injuries more likely. January provides them with a great opportunity to rectify this issue. The Hoops will need to make more additions to their squad when the transfer window opens next month. Reinforcements could not come soon enough for the Hoops, but there are still some huge games to be played before that. Postecouglou will be hoping to hear good news from his physios for the fitness of some of his key players, as Celtic are in pursuit of the Scottish Premiership and want to catch up with Rangers.