Celtic v Hearts – Player Ratings
And, its back to the same old same old.
After Broony unveiled the flag to a Neil Doncaster free pitch, the Hoops faced a “dogged” Hearts and finally limped away with a a 4-1 victory to sit atop the SPFL 2017-18 table.
Hearts were of course led up front by the Kyle Lafferty, a player that we all know and love to hate. Despite Laffertys best roughhouse efforts and a very lenient referee, Celtic managed to gradually up the gears to almost reach 3rd and kill off the game. Sadly after scoring 4, the team then rested to gift Hearts a goal which totally buggered up my coupon and worse the guy next to me who had the Griff / 4-0 Scorecast on for a potential 220 notes. Paranoid Me thinks Ladbrokes was maybe having a wee word in Brendans ear!
And so, to the Ratings
Gordon – 7
Had to make more saves than he should have really given the Celtic dominance. Craig wouldn’t have been happy with the conceded goal but still not as unhappy as some of us in the crowd. Had some nice distribution, including one great pass to Griff from his own box, and had only 1 or 2 passes going astray. Good to see him always looking to make himself available for ball to feet from his defenders but could maybe try stepping up the park a little to intercept through balls from the opposition as a few times the shout of “Keeper!!” came from an anxious crowd, well ok, from me.
Lustig – 7
Steady and solid at the back. Lustig is carving out that ability to seem to do nowt much exciting equals doing nowt much. In fact, hes our Mr Dependable, making sure wingers have to work to get passed him and doing his best to link up in attack where possible.
Bitton – 7
The midfielder come centre half had a nice controlled game and would have learned quite a lot playing against the shit-house that is Lafferty. Got in a tangle a few times but that’s only to be expected with 2 tall guys giving it everything. Once again big Nir didn’t let anyone down and brought the ball out well into the midfield from the back.
Jozo – 7
The “enforcer” had a steady enough game and will have enjoyed more game time with Bitton as he tries to help the makeshift centre pairing gel. Nothing spectacular to remember but that’s fine, cleared lines where needed and marshalled the defence as necessary. became really close friends with Christophe Berra whenever we had a set piece in the Hearts box but the referee didn’t seem to notice.
Tierney – 6
Not been the greatest of season starts for the Boy who would be King but nothing to worry about. Had a good enough game but caught out of position at times and also a little quieter up front than usual, mind you the wanderings of Sinclair wouldn’t have helped him there. Took a few clatters from Hearts players and Brendan might want to get a back up ready to give the boy some rest, its gonna be a long season after all.
Broony – 6
Unveiled the flag and then had one of those games where you applaud his tenacity and circulating the ball but then think “WHAT WAS THAT!” when he played a poor pass or finds himself the wrong side of the opposition. To be fair, even when its not working out exactly as intended, he never hides and gets straight back on with his game.
Ntcham – 7
The wee guy sat next to me watched this performance and said “I think N’tcham’s a lazy player!”.
I just sighed as you cant beat that level of football ignorance and I wont be chatting to him all season that’s for sure. Who needs balance, skill and vision when you can have blood sweat and snotters? N’tcham had a fine hour and his passing is a joy to watch, the ball actually goes in front of the advancing player rather than to feet or behind like some of his colleagues attempts. He will only improve with more games and I cant wait to see him truly flourish in the Hoops.
McGregor – 7
“See that McGregor, hes either in the game or he isnae!” was a quote from another Celtic fan football guru behind me on Saturday. 5 minutes later and the Celtic midfielder had blasted in his brilliant finish. For a player who flies under the radar, he fair scores some great goals with some great running to link up with the forwards. He did what he had to do in a crowded first half and then excelled in the 2nd as the game opened up. This could be some season for another bhoy who is one of our own.
Stuart Armstrong who?
Forrest – 6
A steady enough game which started off brightly but faded towards the end for our CL superstar striker. Jamesie actually ended up playing centre forward by the end of this game so maybe a wee punt on “Forrest for final goalscorer” could be a bet for this season. Again another who took quite a few hits from Hearts players and Brendan will have to be mindful of such abuse in the long term.
Sinclair – 6
Scored a tap in goal but didn’t really do much else bar a few sparks of life, one of course that led to McGregors cracker. I keep going on about how I expect him to take games by the scruff of the neck but I think maybe I just don’t understand Sinclairs role in the team really. He drifts in and out the game, as well as drifting across the pitch and he was anonymous in the first half. Never gets subbed either which I find strange.
Griff – 9
A brilliant performance from a striker bang in form even if not fully fit. Seems Leigh has some calf worries that currently limit him to an hour or so of play but so impressive. Constantly chasing and harrying when not on the ball and then brilliant on the attack. Scored 2, including a great diving header finish and could have had a few more bar some decent saves and the odd miss. The crowds darling and no wonder, the guy epitomises Celtic at present and the crowd love his skills, enthusiasm and his attitude. Wisely taken off after scoring 2 to ease any injury threat and received a standing ovation from the crowd and a big hug from the manager.
Rogic, Armstrong, Hayes – 5
None of the 3 subs ever really got into the game of note. Hayes tried his best down the right hand side while Rogic was a little off the pace trying to get his rhythm going. Armstrong came on late with no time to make any impact.
Rodgers – 7
After a tough old week getting through that European game, the manager will be glad to see his team back on top of the league courtesy of 2 of his forwards scoring and another midfielder getting on the scoresheet. The side showed patience to break down Hearts and we will need a lot of that in the season ahead, especially at home. Early days of course but going very much in the right direction and hopefully we see quite a bit of squad rotation as everything starts to settle down whilst the fixture list starts to pile up. Rodgers also cleverly took focus away from his side by winding up Hearts treatment of Ian Cathro in an interview, which was good to see despite the “you don’t slag other people, its an unwritten rule in Scottish football” shrieks from folk in the media.
Onwards to Tuesday vs Killie in the wee cup we go.