Might Neil Lennon Change The Shape On Saturday?

Neil Lennon has been persistent with the 3-5-2 formation in recent weeks, but he did begin the campaign with four at the back and one up front. On the opening day, the Bhoys smashed Hamilton 5-1 with a 4-2-3-1 formation, he maintained that shape in the 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock, the 1-0 victory over Dundee United and the 3-0 win against Motherwell.

The signing of Shane Duffy heralded a change in personnel as Lennon adopted a 3-5-2, which has at times been a bit of a 3-5-1-1 with a midfielder sitting behind the striker. The switch in formation immediately paid dividends with Ross County being thumped 5-0, and every game has been won using that shape since.

16th September 2020; St Mirren Park, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland; Scottish Premiership Football, St Mirren versus Celtic;

Now things are very different going into the Glasgow Derby. As it stands, three players will certainly miss the match, whilst Edouard is a major doubt. Two of the absentees are defenders in Elhamed and Bitton, whilst Jullien hasn’t played since getting injured a couple of weeks ago.

Therefore, the only match fit centre backs available at present are Ajer and Duffy. Meanwhile, at the top end of the pitch, Edouard is a major doubt after isolating for over a week, Ajeti hasn’t played any football for a few weeks since his hamstring injury and Leigh Griffiths hasn’t had that much action (although he did score in his 90 minute run out during the midweek bounce game).

Given the lack of defensive options, it is quite possible that Neil Lennon will revert back to a back four, meaning that only two centre backs are required to play. He can then choose one of the three strikers to play, rather than trying to get two of the three unfit forwards on the pitch.

On the other hand, Lennon may feel that Jullien is ready to return and could go with a 3-5-2; the Frenchman slotting alongside Duffy and Ajer. The boss may feel that two of the three strikers are in fact ready, whilst he could also play Moi Elyounoussi in that advanced role alongside someone such as Griffiths.

It’s certainly a very strange build up and quite a challenge to go into the biggest game of the season so far without the services of Forrest, Elhamed, Bitton and Christie, as well as the possible absence of Jullien, Ajeti and Edouard.

Liam Kelly

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About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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