REMARKABLY, Celtic scored more league goals after 28 games last season than they have this time around.
The Hoops had inexplicably blown the opportunity of making history by claiming a tenth successive title, but Neil Lennon’s men had still fired 63 goals at that stage in the Premiership.
Bizarrely, Ange Postecoglou’s men, three points ahead with 10 matches to play, have scored three fewer with 60.
The scoreless stalemate against Hibs at Easter Road was the fifth time in this campaign the Parkhead outfit have fired blanks. They were off target as they lost 1-0 at Ibrox in August and did likewise at Livingston in an identical result a month later.
Giorgos Giakoumakis squandered a stoppage-time penalty-kick against the same opponents in Glasgow in October in an 0-0 draw and Postecoglou watched his players stage an action replay in a disappointing performance against St Mirren in Paisley just three days before Christmas.
JOY BHOYS…Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada celebrate the Japanese striker’s opening goal in the 3-2 win over Ferencavros in Budapest.
Now comes the latest goalless deadlock in Edinburgh which has set off some alarm bells with nerves being stretched to breaking point in such a crucial campaign following the first trophyless season in 11 years under Lennon and caretaker John Kennedy, who was in charge for the last 10 outings.
It’s clear the Hoops are missing the thrust and threat of Kyogo Furuhashi who is still the team’s leading goalscorer with 16 strikes despite not kicking a first-team ball this year and he will sit out his THIRTEENTH consecutive match when the team host St Mirren tomorrow night.
Greek hitman Giakoumakis missed the draw with Shaun Maloney’s team through illness just a week after firing in his first Hoops hat-trick in the dramatic late win over Dundee at Parkhead.
Daizen Maeda, with four goals since his Hogmanay arrival, led the line, but looks more suited to raids from the left wing as opposed to being the main man.
Former Celtic and Scotland international right-back Mark Wilson watched the latest scoreless display and said: “It was a disappointing day for Postecoglou’s team. He picked a side full of his big hitters that he has relied upon so heavily this season.
“To be honest, there weren’t many real performances. It was pretty flat. That zip is gone at the minute from Celtic.
“They were pretty toothless in front of goal, so that will be a concern for Postecoglou.
“Especially in the wide areas. Jota and Abada have been so good this season, creating and chipping in with goals. They were so quiet on Sunday. Jota flitted in and out.”
HAPPY DAZE…Filipe Jota celebrates as Celtic overcome Hearts in Tynecastle in January.
The flankers have been playing their part in helping the Hoops to reach today’s position at the Premiership pinnacle with the Israel international claiming 14 goals and the on-loan Benfica ace collecting 10.
Worryingly, though, there is little back-up for Abada and Jota with James Forrest pitching in with only three goals in all competitions – including the winner in the Premier Sports League Cup semi-final over holders St Johnstone – while Mikey Johnston hasn’t hit the net for over TWO years.
Matt O’Riley came on early in the second-half for the toiling Tom Rogic in the capital, but he was the only one of the manager’s stand-by squad to be utilised.
Wilson, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “There was a lack of substitutions, as well.
“When the game wasn’t working, for Postecoglou to only use one, is hardly a ringing endorsement for those on the bench when Celtic really needed something to change that game.
”Postecoglou said earlier in the season they’d need to be practically perfect to catch and overtake Rangers.
“You have got to say they have been. It’s no disgrace going to Easter Road and dropping points.
“But because those players were rested in Norway with Celtic fans thinking they’d come back and produce another stellar performance. But they fell short of that.”
Before anyone presses any panic buttons, it is worth remembering that Postecoglou has guided his team to 22 points from a possible 24 in the eight league games since returning after the break.
They can add to that when St Mirren come calling in the east end of Glasgow tomorrow evening.