Celtic’s 2-0 win over Hamilton was a refreshing moment for Hoops supporters.
For the first time in 2021, they managed to secure a victory and at the same time, it was fairly comfortable.
Much has been made about a two-prong attack featuring Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths but they both stood out on Wednesday evening by finding the net.
Their link-up play was impressive and it would appear that they’re now developing quite the partnership. Unfortunately for the Bhoys, they are still 23 points behind Rangers in their quest for ten SPFL crowns in a row.
That now feels like it’s distinctly out of the realms of possibility and thus, they ideally need to start thinking about next season.
But while they’ll want Edouard and Griffiths to be at the forefront of their plans in attack, their defensive duo will be one they’ll surely have to eradicate.
The Hoops may have kept a clean sheet against Hamilton in midweek but it didn’t come without its scares. That’s because Neil Lennon chose to field Nir Bitton and Shane Duffy together at the heart of defence.
Duffy has been a constant worry for Celtic and nothing was more evident than that in the Scottish Cup final last month. He and Christopher Jullien shipped three goals and their lack of communication was quite frankly horrendous at times.
Though, on this occasion, it was Bitton who continued to betray Lennon with an inept performance. The Israeli has received criticism right throughout his Parkhead career and although he defied them with a solid display when Celtic last played Hamilton, he was anything but assured on Wednesday.
Indeed, it’s been a tough time for the defender who was sent off in the Old Firm derby a few weeks ago. Clearly, his confidence has been dented and that was evident this week.
Kristoffer Ajer was keen to get forward at right-back and as a result, it left Bitton isolated in the channels. In ground duels, he disappointed and won 50% of those he contested – a figure down ever so slightly from his season average of 56%.
Though, worst of all for a defender was his poor passing and constant will to surrender the ball. The Israel international lost possession a colossal 21 times. That happened to be the worst figure of any Celtic player and by a decent margin too. Ajer was the next worst with 17 concessions of the ball.
To make matters worse, Bitton committed two fouls and struggled in close situations with the Hamilton strikers. He did reign supreme in the air – winning a colossal ten aerial duels – but that was more to do with the opposition’s style of play than anything else.
Bitton has been tried time and time again at centre-half but that experiment now simply has to end. He is a defensive midfielder by trade – either play him there or don’t put him in the starting XI at all.
It feels brutal but he is letting Lennon down on a regular basis.