Scottish champions Celtic host Livingston in the Premiership tonight, with the Parkhead outfit coming into the match having claimed a 1-0 win over Aberdeen last time out courtesy of a late strike from returning skipper Callum McGregor.
That meeting at Pittodrie was the Old Firm outfit’s first competitive encounter since the World Cup break, although there were few signs of rust as the Hoops produced a commanding performance on the day, restricting their opponents to just two shots in total whilst having a mammoth 33 of their own.
For all that dominance, though, it may well be of some frustration to Ange Postecoglou that his team took until the 87th minute to make the breakthrough, having again been profligate in front of goal.
A glaring opportunity notably fell to striker Kyogo Furuhashi early in the second half, although he was unable to make clean contact on Liel Abada’s cutback as the ball inexplicably sailed wide, with it being a ‘quiet day by his standards‘ for the Japanese marksman, according to Glasgow Live’s Alan Galindo.
Those woes could well ensure that it is time for Giorgos Giakoumakis to return to the centre-forward berth tonight, with the Greece international surely keen to shake off the speculation surrounding his future with a positive performance.
The latest reports have claimed that the 28-year-old is ‘unhappy‘ at Celtic’s current offer of a wage increase, with that contract impasse leading to suggestions that he could move elsewhere when the transfer window reopens next month.
Even with all that noise in the background, though, it is hard to dispute the forward’s impressive goal record during his time in Glasgow so far, with the 6 foot 1 ace having scored 25 goals in 51 Celtic appearances in all competitions.
The joint-top scorer in the Premiership last term with 13 goals in only 21 appearances, the imposing forward is a truly clinical figure through the middle, having also scored six goals in the top flight this season despite making just four starts.
The indication is that the former VVV-Venlo predator could well be deserving of a chance to truly stake his claim as the leading man in the Hoops’ attack, with the striker having only recently been given the backing of Chris Sutton.
The former Parkhead favourite wrote: ‘Giakoumakis has great movement in the box. He is strong in the air. Kyogo Furuhashi also has a wonderful knack of putting the ball in the net. But, when I compare the two of them, Giakoumakis edges it for me in the natural finishing stakes. As well as that ability to find the right areas in the box, there is so much more to his game.’
The £12k-per-week marksman – who was previously described as a “phenomenon” by Dutch legend Ronald de Boer – could well prove something of a game-changer if he is deployed from the start tonight, with his ruthlessness potentially what Celtic were lacking against the Dons.