My last post at the beginning of October before the Dinamo Zagreb game focussed on several main points;
- The need to win that game to give ourselves a good chance of qualifying from the group;
- That Anthony Stokes is not the answer to Celtic’s need for a goal scorer;
- Than John Guidetti might very well be that man; and
- That it was time for Stefan Scepovic to ‘Step Up’ and show us what he’s capable of.
So, what’s happened since then regards those points?
First up, and thankfully, Celtic held out to record a hard fought one-nil victory over Dinamo courtesy of a well taken Kris Commons goal. No surprise that Commons was the scorer as my previous blog had also pointed out that he and Callum McGregor are currently Celtic’s top marksmen this season. A fact that is more than just slightly worrying as our over reliance on the attacking midfield duo to get the goals was brought to the fore in the very next game against Hamilton. McGregor didn’t feature and Commons didn’t score. Despite creating a host of chances and generally just having one of those days in front goal, it is still quite alarming that none of the strikers (or anyone else) were able to score that day. Goals are still not flowing freely down Parkhead way. But back to Dinamo, it was a hard fought victory and a crucial three points that sets us up nicely for the double header against Astra. While neither fixture will be easy, Celtic just don’t do easy in Europe anymore, I’d be very disappointed if we don’t come away with all 6 points and find ourselves in the driving seat for qualification.
After 806 agonising minutes (that’s just 4 minutes shy of NINE whole games) Anthony Stokes finally scored a goal. 27 minutes later and he went and did it again. Wow. I stand by my previous assertion that Stokes is an SPL level striker at best, however, as that’s the league we play in, that’s all he has to be. He’s also a confidence player who scores his goals in bursts so hopefully we’ll see him find the net again consistently over the coming weeks – before the inevitable and long dry spell. To put things in to perspective as far as Stokes is concerned, the Irishman’s 4 goals this season now makes him joint second top scorer with John Guidetti, and leaves him 1 behind Commons and McGregor. Not bad, until you look a bit deeper. Stokes has scored his four goals in 15 appearances this season compared Guidetti’s four in 6 appearances. Guidetti also betters Stokes in goals per minute averaging a goal just over every 90 minutes, Stokes on the other hand, ratio’s at a goal every 280 minutes (just over 1 every 3 games). Even more disappointing from Stokes’ point of view, defender Jason Denayer is currently averaging a goal every 285 minutes, making him almost as prolific in front of goal this season. While stats like this only paint part of a picture, the part it has revealed does nothing to suggest that Anthony Stokes is a long term goal scoring threat for Celtic. As much as I’d love that to change and will continue to cheer him on in the hoops, I just can’t see it happening. Here’s hoping he proves me wrong.
Is Guidetti the Answer?
The question of course being, which one of Celtic’s strikers is going to score the goals this season? And, yes it looks very much like Guidetti is the answer. Four goals in six games, a goal just over every 90 minutes of game time; John Guidetti looks very much the man to score the goals. Not only that, but he’s a penalty box striker and the type of player this team is crying out for. Unfortunately, and where Celtic are concerned there always seems to be a downside at the moment, the Swede is only here on loan for a season with no guarantees that he’ll stay beyond the season. With his contract at City running out in the summer, moves should be made as soon as possible to make sure he sees his future at Celtic Park. If he maintains his current scoring form then he will run amok up here and could quickly find himself granted hero status among the Parkhead faithful, just like another Swedish striker. The bad news though, Celtic are notoriously slow at making moves for the right player and there’s every chance that come this time next year Guidetti will scoring goals for someone else. Let’s just enjoy him while we can.
As predicted last time, it was time for Stefan Scepovic to step up to the mark and prove himself to be Celtic’s main striker; he couldn’t be worse than Stokesy (sorry) and he’s signed up for next year, unlike Guidetti. So, how much of an impression has he made in the three games since the last blog? None. After giving him a bit of a build up last time and stating that now (the Dinamo game) was his time to shine, the big man didn’t feature in the next two games. Injury ruled him out against Zagreb and he was an unused sub versus Hamilton; incidentally, a game where we desperately needed a goal. Against Ross County at the weekend he was given the final 23 minutes, meaning that he has played a grand total of 23 minutes of game time since I said it was chance to become number 1 striker at the club. That, my friends, is called the kiss of death.
Since arriving in the summer, Scepovic has now mustered 117 minutes of game time spread across 6 games (2 starts, 4 subs), giving him an average of 19.5 minutes an appearance. To be fair to him, he’s not really been a given a chance to show what he can do and with Guidetti in the form he’s in it’s unlikely he’ll be the starting central striker anytime soon. Having said that, should he score within his next 163 minutes of game time, his goals per minute average will be better than that of Anthony Stokes already; there seems to be recurring ‘anti-Stokes’ theme here but I’m honestly not a Stokes hater, I just don’t think he’s Celtic class. As for Scepovic, who knows? He needs more starts and game time to show what he can do, hopefully that involves scoring a lot.
Any thoughts and opinions on this blog or Celtic general are more than welcome.