Celtic Opinion: Hoops should sign Milad Mohammadi as back up for Tierney
According to reports from Football Insider, Celtic are prepared to swoop for Iranian international left-back Milad Mohammadi in the summer, with English clubs Fulham and Bristol City also weighing up deals for the 25-year-old, who is out of contract at his current club Akhmat Grozny.
Mohammadi has made a total of 25 appearances for Grozny in the Russian Premier League this season, scoring once. The 25-year-old rose to prominence with Rah Anan Yazdan FC in his homeland before completing a move to the Russian club back in 2016. In all, he has made a total of 79 appearances for Akhmat Grozny, scoring 3 goals and assisting a further 6.
Mohammadi, who was a part of Iran’s squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, came to prominence for his unsuccessful somersaulting long throw-in against Spain in the group stages, leading to multiple viral videos and memes of the event all over the globe.
However, he has done his reputation no harm at the club level this term and has enjoyed another solid season in the Russian top-flight.
The Iranian is essentially a left-back by trade but he is more than capable of operating as an out-and-out winger further up the pitch. Known for his high levels of stamina and uncompromised work-rate, Mohammadi constantly patrols up and down the pitch to contribute equally to both defence and attack.
Strong on the tackle and quick across the ground, the Iranian has a good range of passing and often creates chances with his accurate deliveries into the box, while also possessing the awareness and the positional sense of an orthodox left-back.
He likes to drive at his opposite number with pace but, at the same time, he is a very reliable defender as well. To add to that, Mohammadi is also a good dribbler, who uses his trickery to outsmart the opposition and create space down the wide areas.
The 25-year-old boasts of a pass accuracy rate of 75.5, including 0.9 crosses, 2.5 long balls, 2.5 tackles, 1.4 interceptions, 1.3 shots and 1 key pass per game in the Russian Premier League this term, figures which speak volumes of his well-rounded attributes as a flying full-back.
To put things into perspective, Celtic need to invest heavily in their defensive options this summer in order to maintain the right kind of balance in their ranks.
While replacements for Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic at the heart of the defence and Mikael Lustig at right-back remain high on manager Neil Lennon’s wishlist, the Hoops also need to bring in a reserve left-back to take the pressure off Kieran Tierney’s shoulders.
Tierney has been an undisputed starter for the Hoops this season, but given that Honduran veteran Emilio Izaguirre is out of contract at the end of the campaign, Celtic should prioritise the signing of a new left-back as well.
Mohammadi’s presence would not only reduce the pressure on Tierney but also add depth to the squad in a key area and increase competition for places.
Tierney has had his fair share of problems with injuries and the Iranian is reliable enough to fill in his boots whenever the need arises. Furthermore, Celtic could also make use of Mohammadi’s attacking prowess by deploying him as a winger further up the pitch to cover for an injury crisis.
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Celtic, though, should look at him more as a replacement for Izaguirre and a versatile squad player at depth. He will take some time to acclimatise to the style of play prevalent in the Scottish Premiership, but going by what he has shown in the Russian top flight so far, Celtic could have a gem in their hands if they manage to strike a deal for him in the summer.
[Image] Predicted 4-2-3-1 Celtic XI to face Hibernian – can Edouard keep firing?
Predicted Celtic XI to face Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership
Celtic romped home with a comfortable 5-0 victory over Partick Thistle in the Scottish League Cup on Wednesday and the Hoops will be strong favourites to claim all three points when they make the trip to Easter Road to face Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.
Neil Lennon’s side have won each of their first six league games this season and are currently three points clear of arch-rivals Rangers atop the standings.
Hibernian are currently bottom of the table after winning only one of their first six league fixtures but Paul Heckingbottom’s side will be somewhat buoyed by their penalty shootout victory over Kilmarnock in the Scottish League Cup.
Moritz Bauer (ankle), Leigh Griffiths (thigh) and Jozo Simunovic (knee) are doubtful to make a return to the squad, while Scott Bain, Michael Johnston, Leigh Griffiths and Nir Bitton are all ruled out with injuries.
Neil Lennon will be expected to make a few changes to the eleven that triumphed over Partick Thistle in the League Cup.
Fraser Forster (GK)
The Southampton loanee has been a wonderful addition to Celtic’s ranks this summer and he is expected to replace Craig Gordon, who started between the sticks in the League Cup tie.
Hatem Abd Elhamed (RB)
The Israeli defender played at the heart of the defence in the previous game but he is likely to shift to a right-back role on Saturday to cover for the injury to Moritz Bauer, with Frimpong not expected to be amongst the starters in the league fixture.
Kristoffer Ajer (CB)
The Norwegian international didn’t have a lot to do in the 5-0 League Cup victory but he has been really impressive at the back this term.
Christopher Jullien (CB)
The Frenchman didn’t play a part in the midweek fixture but he is usually one of the first names on Lennon’s teamsheet.
Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LB)
Jonny Hayes featured at left-back on Wednesday against Partick Thistle but the Belgian continues to be the first choice in that position.
Scott Brown (CDM)
The veteran came on as a substitute in the League Cup tie but he is a key cog in the Hoops’ midfield and is expected to be back in the eleven on Saturday for the trip to Easter Road.
Callum McGregor (CM)
His excellent all-round game is an indispensable asset to Celtic in the middle of the park and there are hardly any doubts over his selection.
James Forrest (RM)
He came close to finding the net on numerous occasions in the 3-1 victory over Kilmarnock last week and the former academy graduate should be fresh to start on Saturday after being rested for the League Cup game.
Mohamed Elyounoussi (LM)
He is yet to hit top gear at Parkhead following his loan move from Southampton but Lennon should continue to hand him regular minutes to allow him to settle down.
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Ryan Christie (CAM)
The influential playmaker wasn’t in the squad for the midweek game but he is sure to start against Hibernian this weekend.
Odsonne Edouard (ST)
The Frenchman has been in terrific form in front of goal and Celtic will bank on him to deliver the goods once again this week.
Rangers 0-2 Celtic: 3 talking points from the Old Firm Derby as Gerrard’s tactics failed miserably
Rangers 0-2 Celtic: 3 talking points from the Old Firm Derby
Celtic completely outclassed Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday as Odsonne Edouard’s opener in the first half and a second from substitute Jonny Hayes in injury-time ensured that the Hoops strengthened their position at the top of the table.
Having secured qualification to the group stages of the Europa League with impressive victories in the playoffs, both the Old Firm rivals went into the game on Sunday brimming with confidence, but it was Celtic who laid down an early title marker in the first derby of the season.
Steven Gerrard opted to leave Europa League playoff hero Alfredo Morelos on the bench, with Jerman Defoe getting the nod as the No.9 in the derby. Additionally, the Gers went in with a very narrow and compact 4-3-3 system, flooding the central areas with more players at the expense of some genuine width.
Neil Lennon, on the other hand, brought in Hatem Abd Elhamed in place of the injured Kristoffer Ajer at right-back, with Celtic fielding a completely new look backline in the derby as compared to the previous campaign.
It wasn’t the most aesthetic game that you would ever see and after an opening half-hour where chances were few and far between, Mikey Johnstone outsmarted Conor Goldson to set it up for Odsonne Edouard, who scored his fifth goal against Rangers to put the Hoops 1-0 up.
To say that Rangers were below-par for almost the entirety of the game would not be an understatement, as the Gers failed to muster any sort of a meaningful reply after conceding that goal. Substitutes Sheyi Ojo and Morelos somewhat improved them in the second half but it was never going to be enough to break Celtic down.
Jonny Hayes took his chance really well in the third minute of injury time before the game ended, with Jordan Jones receiving a straight card for a cynical hack on Moritz Bauer. Here are 3 key talking points from the Old Firm derby.
1. Edouard made the difference again
Odsonne Edouard’s opener at Ibrox on Sunday was the Frenchman’s fifth goal against the Gers and the second time that he scored the winner on enemy territory.
The Frenchman wasn’t always in the game but he contributed a lot with his clever touches and smart hold-up play, gratefully accepting the only clear-cut chance the fell to him in the game.
Edouard’s winner at Ibrox was reminiscent of the big-game specialism that Moussa Dembele used to showcase during his illustrious spell at Celtic and his latest goal would definitely have raised his stocks amongst the fans.
2. Steven Gerrard’s tactical blunder and lack of energy from Rangers
Rangers’ approach to the game resembled a funnel, as Gerrard compromised some genuine width to flood the central areas of the pitch with a view to blocking the passing lanes and frustrating Celtic.
One would have expected Gerrard to field some out-and-out pacey wingers to capitalise on Celtic’s rather unsettled backline but neither Scott Arfield nor Joe Aribo did enough to put the defenders under any real pressure.
Defoe was largely anonymous due to a lack of supply and while substitutes Ojo and Morelos breathed life into the game, Rangers apparently never had the energy to press Celtic off the ball and get themselves back into the game.
James Tavernier and Glen Kamara, who are usually very influential in their respective roles, looked completely off the pace, ineffective and lethargic, whilst centre-back Goldson came up with one of his worst ever performances for the Gers.
It was a combination of tired legs after a hard-fought playoff victory in the Europa League playoffs and some poor reading of the game by Gerrard that led to Rangers’ downfall on Sunday.
3. Celtic’s backline rose to the occasion very well
The back four consisting of Elhamed, Christopher Jullien, Nir Bitton and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo exceeded all expectations and while Rangers played it into their hands to some extent with some poor tactical nous and below-par attacking play, the Celtic defenders deserve all the credit for a well-earned clean sheet.
Apart from Bitton, the other three defenders at the back had their first taste of the derby atmosphere this Sunday and Neil Lennon would have been happy to see them rise to the occasion and deliver the goods when it mattered the most.
[Image] Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic FC XI to face AIK in the Europe League playoffs – can the Hoops secure the win?
Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic FC XI to face AIK in the Europe League playoffs
Celtic FC romped home to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Hearts at home in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday as Callum McGregor’s strike in the second half sandwiched by own goals from Christophe Berra and Craig Halkett ensured that the Hoops preserved their perfect start to the campaign.
Celtic’s Champions League aspirations came to an end with a 5-4 aggregate defeat against Romanian giants Cluj in the third qualifying round but they have a chance to make it to the group stages of the Europa League after beating Swedish outfit AIK 2-0 away from home last week.
Neil Lennon’s side will be the clear favourites to make it through to the group stages, as they carry a two-goal lead to Sweden on Thursday night.
Neil Lennon is expected to make a few changes to the eleven that played against Hearts on Sunday, with the Old Firm derby against Rangers in the waiting too.
Celtic travel to Sweden with a few injury concerns, as Hatem Abd Elhamed, Scott Bain and Tom Rogic are expected to miss the trip. However, the manager is likely to have most of the first-team players at his disposal for selection.
Predicted Celtic XI
Fraser Forster (GK)
The towering shot-stopper was catapulted into the starting eleven against Hearts upon his return to Parkhead and he is expected to start ahead of Craig Gordon between the sticks.
Kristoffer Ajer (RB)
The Norwegian has been a real revelation at right-back in recent games and he is likely to continue in that role on Thursday.
Christopher Jullien (CB)
The Frenchman has proven himself to be worthy of every penny for the Hoops so far this season and there is no reason why he should be left out of the away leg despite the Old Firm derby around the corner.
Jozo Simunovic (CB)
Nir Bitton started at the back on Sunday against Hearts but the Croatian is expected to get the nod after a calm and composed display in the 2-0 first-leg victory.
Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LB)
The new signing excelled with his pace, energy and link-up play down the flanks in the first leg and he is expected to be handed another start on Thursday.
Scott Brown (CM)
The veteran is usually the one who controls the game for Celtic in the middle of the park and his experience might prove to be a deciding factor in the all-important clash.
James Forrest (RAM)
One of Celtic’s most influential players over the past few years, the Scottish international is the club’s indispensable weapon down the flanks and he will be in high spirits after scoring in the 2-0 victory in the first leg.
Callum McGregor (LAM)
The homegrown star was one of the standout performers against the Swedish opposition last week and he is expected to be one of the first names on the teamsheet this time around as well.
Ryan Christie (RW)
The attacking midfielder tormented the Swedes with his tireless running, energy and creativity in the first leg and he definitely deserves another start.
Mikey Johnstone (LW)
The youngster has produced some dazzling displays early in the campaign and he was virtually unplayable against AIK last week.
Odsonne Edouard (ST)
Vakoun Issouf Bayo started against Hearts but Celtic’s first-choice No.9 should be back in the starting eleven on Thursday.
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