Old Firm Aftermath

22 Feb

Some thoughts on Celtic’s 3-0 win over Rangers.

1. A thoroughly deserved win for Celtic.  They controlled most of the match with their passing, movement and work-rate – and most importantly scored three excellent goals.

2. A bad day for Rangers.  Well beaten and beginning to look like a tired outfit who are short of ideas.  This season could be a repeat of 1998 – an experienced Walter Smith side who could have the title won yet ultimately, ran out of steam.

3. An outstanding performance from Gary Hooper – intelligent play at the first goal where waited at the edge of the box for the ball from Kris Commons, rather than charging into the box.  Then took a superb first touch which allowed him to go on and beat McGregor.

4. While Hooper takes all the plaudits for the first goal, it highlighted that David Weir’s best days are firmly in the past.  He’s had a fine career, but was badly exposed on Sunday.

5. Celtic will do well to hold onto Emilio Izaguirre for a second season.  Another excellent display and produced a lovely ball for the second goal.  If he continues to produce that kind of delivery he will develop into a top-class full-back.

6. Neil Lennon seems to have inherited Martin O’Neill’s ability to get the best out of individuals.  Anybody who can turn Charlie Mulgrew into a ball-playing centre-back and get regularly impressive performances from Georgios Samaras, must be doing something right.

7. Interesting how much emphasis Lennon put on midfield in his post-match interview with Sky.  Celtic have so many options in that area of the field and dominated the middle of the park.  With 82 minutes on the clock, Steven Davis broke down the right but his pass down the line was blocked.  When he regained possession he was immediately surrounded by three Celtic players and the move quickly broke down.

8. Nikica Jelavic had chances to bring Rangers back into the game, but the sharpness isn’t there.  He’ll need to produce quickly because David Healy won’t score the goals that will win the title.

9. The momentum is with Celtic.  They have a young team full of drive and determination and have a far stronger squad than their rivals.  Defeat in the first Old Firm game of the season seems like a distant memory.

10. Despite all the doom and gloom, Rangers know the title is far from over.  Should they win their games in hand, they will be right in there and while Celtic are on a great run, they are still capable of the odd horror show – they also have a tricky encounter with a resurgent Motherwell this weekend.

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