CELTIC lead the second-place club in the Scottish Premiership by a decisive nine points, with 28 games into the 38-game regular season. You can see how dominant Celtic have been in the domestic league by adding in their positive goal differential of plus 70.
Unbelievably, 26 of these games have been victories, with just one loss (on the road against St. Mirren on September 18) and one tie. Any competition would struggle to keep up with the frenetic pace.
Three of the four Japanese players who played for Celtic the previous season have been putting on strong performances this season. Ange Postecoglou’s strongest starting line-up consistently includes Reo Hatate, Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda. Yosuke Ideguchi has struggled to maintain his fitness, just as he did last season and moved on loan to J-League outfit Avispa Fukuoka.
Ange Postecoglou also brought in two more players from the Japanese top flight in the January transfer window – midfielder Tomoki Iwata and central defender Yuki Kobayashi who both played as second-half substitutes in the team’s 3-0 Scottish Cup quarter-final win over Hearts on Saturday.
Ideguchi may have had bad luck, but his countrymen are improving their standing in Scotland’s premier division. It might not be long before all three of the original arrivals are the focus of the rife transfer rumors that permeate football the whole year. Clubs from some of the more affluent European leagues will undoubtedly be interested in Celtic’s Japanese three.
With the aid of the Nipponic players, Celtic have been confirming the pre-season projections and are the overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy at the end of the season. Fans who have taken advantage of a VIP code to back the team for a title surely are satisfied now that Celtic are marching towards their 53rd league championship.
Now, without further ado, let’s delve deeper into Hatate, Furuhashi, and Maeda’s Premiership overall performances thus far in 2022-23.
With over 22 Premiership matches under his belt, the 25-year-old midfielder is quickly blossoming into the sort of player that many elite clubs want in their midfield.
Hatate, who has five goals and six assists, also has an impact on the less-noticed aspect of football by frequently winning the ball and keeping it for his team. That is no small achievement for a player coming from outside in the physically demanding and fast-paced Scottish playing environment.
Hatate has demonstrated his versatility in addition to his prowess in the middle. On December 24, when Celtic’s fullbacks were injured, he filled up at right back against St. Johnstone. He played out of position that day but still managed to score twice and win player of the match.
Hatate, who frequently lines up in a midfield three with Matt O’Riley and club captain Callum McGregor, was given more responsibility when McGregor was sidelined for a number of games due to injury. Hatate was the only player other than McGregor who was instructed to play more centrally, further increasing his involvement in dictating the pace of Celtic’s game.
A forward in any league may be proud of their performance after scoring 22 goals in 26 games. In the battle to score the most goals in Scotland this year, Furuhashi is presently in the lead. His nearest followers are Antonio Colak (11), Bojan Miovski of Aberdeen (14), and Lawrence Shankland of Hearts (17).
This season, Furuhashi has stayed healthy and has shown off his ability to finish. If he maintains his fitness, he may score close to 30 goals this season, which would be impressive for a non-penalty taker.
With the abundance of strikers on Celtic’s roster, there was early-season speculation in the Scottish media over whether Furuhashi would be switched in and out of Postecoglou’s starting eleven. That did not occur; it is evident from the squad lineups that Furuhashi is the manager’s top pick for the center striker position.
According to Furuhashi’s goals-to-minutes-played ratio, after 24 games, he had scored once every 66 minutes in the Scottish Premiership. He has scored eight of his goals at home and nine abroad. Deadly and consistent at any stadium. He also has the highest percentage of shots on goal (61%), making him the top finisher in the Scottish Premiership.
Maeda is further solidifying his status as one of the hardest-working attackers Scottish football has ever seen by starting games occasionally and coming off the bench other times.
Maeda, the lone member of Celtic’s Japanese contingent to reach the national team roster for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022, faces stiff competition for a starting position at the club level.
The former Yokohama F Marinos star, who has seven goals and five assists, is a crucial member of Postecoglou’s team. Maeda often sees action when Celtic play its most difficult domestic adversaries.
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