IN SPITE of the interruptions that were caused to the 2022/23 domestic campaign owing to the first ever winter World Cup taking place out in Qatar, Celtic enjoyed another very good first half of the season under gaffer Ange Postecoglou and we had a very comfortable lead over the chasing pack as we went into the enforced break.
Standards have not dropped since the fixture calendar returned and as we now tick through February’s fixtures with the January transfer window now at a close, the club continue to hold a nine-point advantage at the top of the table, and 25 games into the season, we have only dropped four points – our commanding goal difference also more than hands us a good advantage as we bid for another league title.
The midweek clash at Celtic Park at the beginning of the month against Livingston was no different, and we tied the game up, and all three points, with three good first half goals coming from Greg Taylor, Daizen Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi.
There will have been those fans in attendance who felt that our utter control and dominance of the game could well, and should well, have seen us add to our impressive goalscoring tally and take victory by an even greater margin as many would have thought the odds of that happening were greater than you would get at fruity slots.
And the champions followed up that triumph with a solid 4-1 win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park where Andy Considine (og), Kyogo, Aaron Mooy and David Turnbull were the marksmen. The only wobble came when Drey Wright hit a long-range drive which seemed to take Joe Hart by surprise which halved the early first-half advantage.
With 13 games remaining in the league campaign, the title should soon mathematically be ours and unassailable.
Our 57-year-old manager had previously called on his first team squad to ensure they ended the campaign strongly and on a high note and it looks like they are listening and intend to do just that as the season comes to a close. The former Australian international gaffer was clearly pleased with what he saw against Livi.
Postecoglou, speaking to the press in his post game conference, said: “I thought we were good tonight. We started the game really well, we knew we would have a lot of possession but it was what we did with it and I thought we were always probing and asking questions. Second half, Livingston didn’t really open up so it wasn’t like we were going to get bags of chances. I still thought we controlled it well, we just never got the goal.”
Furuhashi’s effort on the night marked his 21st goal of the current campaign and the 28-year-old Japanese international has simply been a revelation following his arrival from Vissel Kobe back in the summer of 2021, and he came in for particular praise from the gaffer.
“He is a quality player, he is always a threat. Even when there isn’t a lot of space, he finds it with his running, it disturbs the opponent. He has composure in his finishing, passion and energy and his appetite to work on everything makes us a better team.”
Kyogo could bask in additional praise from his manager when he hoisted his tally to 22 – an overall 42 since his arrival – in Perth.
A shoulder injury early in the 5-1 Scottish Cup fifth round win over St Mirren at the weekend could slow his progress, though. He is a doubt for Saturday’s forthcoming visit of Aberdeen.