What a 3-5-2 Celtic could look like against St Mirren

Brendan Rodgers revealed at the end of his post-match interview on Sky Sports last night that central defender Stephen Welsh had a tight hamstring and that is going to make him a doubt alongside right-back Alistair Johnston who was taken to hospital after being knocked out in the early stages of the game against Hibs.

Both players will now be regarded as doubtful for Sunday’s Scottish Cup fifth round tie away to St Mirren, who followed up their impressive win at Easter Road at the weekend with another victory last night, this time winning 2-0 at home against Dundee.

This is perhaps going to be the trickiest of all three away fixtures in just over a week and it looks like both Anthony Ralston – who played a significant role in last night’s Celtic winner – and Maik Nawrocki will both start.

Celtic could have Greg Taylor back after injury, with Rodgers confirming ahead of the game at Easter Road, that the Scotland international left-back was back in training and that he was waiting for a medical sign-off that could give him a green light to start Taylor on Sunday.

Alexandro Bernabei may just have done enough to be in his manager’s thoughts for an alternative role on the left hand side of Celtic’s attack, with the wide players yet again failing to impress. From the four who played last night – Daizen Maeda and Nicolas Kuhn from the start and Luis Palma and Liel Abada from the bench, none can claim to have covered themselves in glory.

The manager may be thinking that Bernabei could offer an alternative solution, as indeed could Rocco Vata. Kyogo’s movement and bravery won the penalty and with his two goals from the penalty spot, Adam Idah can be expected to start.

Plenty of alternative options within that rather than just play the expected team which would serve up more of the same and put us at risk of exiting the Scottish Cup.

Chris Wotherspoon, an occasional contributor on The Celtic Star, had his say earlier today and subsequently made this observation to me:

“It’s so frustrating watching us at the moment, there seems to be a complete lack of ideas both on and off the park. Brendan Rodgers has to get more out of this squad. If you think of it in terms of added value, he is way behind some of the other managers in the league who are getting more out of their limited squads. Let’s hope we crossed some sort of line last night and can push on from here.”

If Greg Taylor isn’t going to be rushed back,, Brendan could look at a 3-5-2 formation looking something like this…


         Ralston, Nawrocki, Scales

Vata, O’Riley, McGregor, Bernardo, Bernabei

                      Idah Kyogo

Every time Brendan is asked about changing formation or playing two up front, he talks about alternatives being available that can be used if or when the circumstances merit it. But the same old outcomes are there to see and a sobering read – one you may have missed – came from James French earlier in the week on The Celtic Star when he provided the stats for the Celtic front three in terms of goals and assists and it’s clear to see why the Kyogo is subdued, given there’s nothing of any real quality coming his way from the two wingers, regardless of who plays.

It’s also worth noting that every opponent knows exactly how Celtic will set up and they shape their low block around this with increased confidence given the lack of threat that comes from our wide players. So a change could give us a real boost and a return to form from the likes Kyogo, Matt O’Riley and Callum McGregor who are all suffering under the current system.

It’s constructive criticism supported by a possible alternative that is worth considering. Would be interested to hear other ideas and alternatives in the comments section below…

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

1 Comment

  1. Patrick Cullen on

    if johnston is fit i would play ralston r/h side of Mcgregor in the midfield ,we need someone who will tackle and fight for the ball