Celtic Opinion: Lennon reuniting with Adam Matthews could save the Hoops a fortune in the transfer window
The Welshman is currently a free-agent following his departure from the Black Cats and Celtic have lined him up as a potential transfer target for the summer.
Matthews contributed with a goal and 5 assists in 23 League one appearances for Sunderland this past season, as Jack Ross’ side lost out to Charlton Athletic in the playoff finals, thus missing the chance to secure promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking.
Matthews is not the only right-back to have been linked with a move to Parkhead, though, with the Hoops also weighing up moves for Sheffield United defender Geroge Baldock and out-of-favour Arsenal star Carl Jenkinson, The Scottish Sun understands.
However, the same source claims that the Blades are reluctant to let the 26-year-old depart following their promotion to the Premier League, and while Baldock remains open to a move across the border, manager Chris Wilder wants to hold on to him despite facing the risk of losing him for free in a year’s time.
The Swansea-born defender rose through the youth ranks of Cardiff City and rose to prominence with the Bluebirds in the Championship during the 2009-10 season.
Matthews’ promise and potential prompted Neil Lennon, then on his first stint as the Celtic manager, to make a move for the youngster and the right-back went on to establish himself as one of the mainstays of the Hoops’ backline in the subsequent seasons.
Matthews racked up a total of 150 appearances for Celtic in all competitions, registering an impressive 5 goals and 22 assists in the process. The 27-year-old guided the Hoops to four consecutive Scottish Premiership titles from 2011 to 2015, whilst also winning the Scottish Cup and the Scottish League Cup over the course of his trophy-laden spell at Parkhead.
The 27-year-old’s career has been in a downward spiral ever since he left Celtic to join Sunderland back in 2015. Matthews found it hard to nail down a regular starting spot at the Stadium of Light due to recurrent injuries and was shipped out on loan to Bristol City in the Championship.
He was a regular since the start of the 2017-18 season following the Black Cats relegation from the Premier League but now that he is a free-agent, a move back to Parkhead might go a long way towards helping him rediscover his old form.
To put things into perspective, it should be an absolute no-brainer for Neil Lennon to bring back his former player to Celtic on a free transfer this summer, with the Hoops currently facing a crisis at right-back.
Matthews’ stint at the Stadium of Light might not have been that fruitful but the 27-year-old is still very much in his prime years and reuniting with him could prove to be a shrewd piece of business by Lennon.
Mikael Lustig has been Celtic’s undisputed first-choice right-back for a long time but the Swedish veteran is out-of-contract this summer and has so far refused to put pen to paper on an extension.
Former West Brom star Cristian Gamboa and Borussia Dortmund loanee Jeremy Toljan are both set to head for the exit door, meaning that the Hoops are at serious risk of being without a single senior right-back in their ranks next season.
Hence, it is not difficult to see why the acquisition of Adam Matthews for free would save Celtic a fortune in the transfer market, whilst also being a quick one-step solution to their right-back conundrum.
The 27-year-old’s previous experience at Celtic coupled with his know-how of the Scottish game should make him a potentially risk-free signing for the Hoops.
To Read More Celtic News, Click Here:- Latest Celtic News
Celtic will be looking to complete nine-in-a-row over arch-rivals Rangers in the Scottish Premiership next term and the arrival of Adam Matthews would hand the Hoops a massive boost prior to the start of the upcoming campaign.
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.
Griffiths and Bayo to lead the line? Predicted 3-4-1-2 Celtic XI to face Dunfermline Athletic in the Betfred Cup
Celtic FC vs Dunfermline Athletic prediction: Celtic FC line-up
Celtic will host Dunfermline Athletic in the Betfred Cup on Saturday after a shock defeat at the hands of Romanian outfit CFR Cluj saw their Champions League dreams come to an end.
It’s been a difficult couple of days to get through so far but the Hoops have to bounce back with a convincing victory over Dunfermline Athletic to change the mood.
Neil Lennon could ring the changes for the weekend’s Betfred Cup tie.
Goalkeeper Scott Bain picked up a hand injury during the loss against Cluj but finished the game. However, he has now been ruled out for upto two months.
Probable Celtic XI
Manager: Neil Lennon
Craig Gordon (GK)
With Bain out injured, Gordon naturally comes back in goal for Saturday’s game.
Christopher Jullien (RCB)
Jullien, surprisingly, didn’t start in the embarrassing loss to Cluj. However, he is expected to come back into Lennon’s starting XI.
Nir Bitton (CB)
Like Jullien, Bitton was an unused substitute in the last game. With the Europa League play-off game against AIK coming up, Lennon could freshen things up by handing Bitton a start.
Kristoffer Ajer (LCB)
Ajer struggled against Cluj’s attackers on Tuesday but Lennon is expected to stick with the towering Norwegian.
Anthony Ralston (RWB)
With Hatem Abd Elhamed yet to fully get into the grips of the Scottish league, the Celtic boss could hand an opportunity to Anthony Ralston on the right.
Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LWB)
Bolingoli has looked unconvincing at the back following his summer move from Austria Vienna. But he could be handed a chance to impress at left wing-back against Dunfermline.
Scott Brown (CM)
Celtic’s leader on and off the pitch, Brown continues to play every game for the club under Lennon, and should start.
Olivier Ntcham (CM)
Though the partnership Ntcham and Brown didn’t work out against Cluj, Lennon could go with the same pair on Saturday.
Ryan Christie (CAM)
Christie will add creativity and a punch of guile to the team. He will be raring to get on the score-sheet again.
Leigh Griffiths (LS)
With the Europa League game against AIK on the horizon, Lennon could freshen up his attack by bringing in Griffiths in place of Edouard.
Vakoun Issouf Bayo (RS)
Vakoun Issouf Bayo has struggled with fitness since joining the club in January. However, Lennon should give the pacey Ivorian a proper outing at home in the Betfred Cup game.
Arsenal3 weeks ago
Focussing on Emery’s tactical change against Tottenham – what does it mean for Arsenal moving forward?
Bristol City3 weeks ago
EFL Championship round 6: Winners and Losers of the weekend including high-flying Swansea and struggling Huddersfield
Arsenal2 weeks ago
Premier League gameweek 4: Winners and Losers from the weekend including Chelsea’s slip and Leicester’s rise
Arsenal2 weeks ago
Premier League gameweek 6: 5 Talking points from the weekend including Chelsea’s slip and Leicester’s surge