The reigning Scottish Premiership champions Celtic are closing in on yet another title. Ange Postecoglou’s outfit has been by a country mile the best of the bunch in this year’s marathon. With one trophy already in the bag, the Glasgow giants are primed to add another title to their growing list of majors.
Celtic has easily been the top dogs this season. The Hoops have swept aside countless sides in their path all season. Postecoglou demands high octane football from his side, and they have certainly lived up to that billing with the boys from Glasgow finding the net on 98 occasions. The defence also deserves an admirable recognition, with the Celtic line only being breached 23 times this term.
The key to Celtic’s success this season has been the Australian coach’s tactical flexibility. While that success was not seen on the European stage with the Hoops exiting the Champions League at the group stage, it has been seen at misfortune for Premiership sides. Postecoglou favours the attacking 4-3-3 system, and that formation has got many a Celtic fan of their seats at Celtic Park.
Aaron Mooy, the little Australian magician and has been the orchestrator in the middle of the park. The former Huddersfield Town star has notched up four goals and nine assists for his side. The form of fellow midfield anchor Matthew O’Riley has also been another catalyst in the cog of the Celtic juggernaut. O’Riley has an eye-catching 11 assists this term and continues to flourish in Postecoglou’s system. O’Riley will most definitely be a target for Premier League teams in the near to distant future.
The front line of Celtic’s arsenal has been a key factor to the quest for a 53rd Scottish crown. The transfer nous of the former Australian coach has seen a vast number of Japanese players arriving from the Japan top flight to the J1 League. The hitman, so to speak, for Celtic this season has been forwarded to Kyogo Furuhashi. Furuhashi has found the net an outstanding 22 times in 29 appearances for the soon to be crowned champions. The Portuguese wideman Jota has also had an impact on the Celtic story. Jota has netted on 11 occasions while assisting on ten. Daizen Maeda has yet to hit the heights set by his counterparts. However, seven goals and five assists can not be overlooked.
The defence has also been a key component in The Bhoys marvellous campaign. Marshalled by the excellent Cameron Carter-Vickers and Swedish star Carl Starfelt, the rear-guard has been well tightened up. Greg Taylor and January recruit Alistair Johnston have been thorns in many wingers sides on the right and left-back side, respectively. The Canadian international Johnston has equally impressed with climatising to a new league. Johnston has one goal so far this campaign. However, his performance in the Old Firm derby last on the Easter weekend is making him a cult hero with supporters after having won the most duels in the game.
Having an experienced head in the last line of the defence has also boded well for Celtic. Former England and Manchester City stopper Joe Hart has been instrumental for Glasgow’s giant side. Hart has been a permanent fixture in all of The Bhoys’ games so far and has kept teams at breach just 22 times. Fourteen clean sheets in 31 games can not be sniffed at. The veteran keeper has been the vocal figure back in the Celtic net and encourages his side up the pitch when starting attacks in Postecoglou’s favoured ‘play from out the back’ style of coaching.
Celtic Park is where the Hoops have had the most joy. Unbeaten this season, winning 16 games out of 16 with no draws makes ‘Paradise’ an unforgiving and hostile place for teams to arrive too. Celtic have found the net on an unbelievable 50 times, making them the highest scoring team at home in all of the 12 teams in the division. The most notable of those big wins came at the unfortunate hands of Dundee United back in August, who were humiliated 9-0.
Celtic also have the bragging rights over the old enemy Michael Beale’s Rangers. The Blues have arrived at the home stretch of the campaign and found themselves a shocking 12 points behind their bitter rivals. The loss away to Celtic on Easter weekend sees Rangers leaving Celtic Park without tasting victory in their last six attempts. Rangers will be hoping to turn the tables on the runaway leaders when they face each other in the Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden Park at the end of the month.
That 3-2 victory over Rangers over the Easter weekend leaves Celtic needing just three more victories in the final seven games to secure another championship. Celtic will be hoping to finish the campaign with a flourish by defeating The Teddybears at Hampden Park in the cup semi-final and go on to secure another potential treble. Then, all eyes will turn to the summer to see how the Hoops can banish their European ghosts.