What did Brendan Rodgers learn from St Mirren victory?

Celtic advanced to the Scottish Cup quarter-finals with a comfortable victory in Paisley against St Mirren.

Brendan Rodgers’ side had looked far from convincing in recent matches, and the Buddies had been in good form heading into the cup tie, so the stage was set for what threatened to be an incredibly tough and nervy afternoon.

Celtic’s quality ultimately shone through, with goals from Japanese pair Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda securing the victory and progress to the next round, where they will face the Premiership’s bottom side, Livingston.

Sunday’s victory was one of Celtic’s strongest performances of the season, and here are ACSOM’s 3 main takeaways:

McGregor the main man

Callum McGregor’s performances have been under the microscope this season, but the captain was at his brilliant best in Paisley against St Mirren. Whilst Matt O’Riley’s influence on the game wasn’t as strong as it usually is, the captain stepped up to the plate as he provided a brilliant pass through to Luis Palma that split open the St Mirren defence, with the Honduran laying off the early ball allowing Kyogo Furuhashi to open the scoring.

McGregor ran the show over the course of the 90 minutes, always providing an outlet for the defenders to pick out and was tidy on the ball in a performance that was a true return to form for the 30-year-old.

Change of shape worked

Celtic’s static performances over the last few weeks had led to many calls from supporters for the manager to change the shape. Rodgers did just that heading into the fifth round clash, playing a 4-4-2 formation with Paulo Bernardo and Nicolas Kühn both making way for Kyogo Furuhashi and Luis Palma.

Kyogo has cut an isolated figure in attack for the most part this season but he looked closer to his usual self under the new tactical shape, scoring a phenomenal opening goal.

In the second-half, however, Rodgers made some substitutions that saw Celtic return to the previous shape. Unsurprisingly, St Mirren began to see more of the ball and more chances on goal following these changes.

Rodgers taking a risk and avoiding continuing with the cautious approach was paying dividends, and trying out this new system in future matches should be the way forward to freshen things up.



Welsh shines in the defence

Stephen Welsh is a player who is pretty easy to criticise for Celtic supporters, but he turned in a great performance in Paisley.

Having made his debut in the 2019/20 season under Neil Lennon as a 20-year-old Academy graduate, Welsh was in favour over the following two seasons but was left out more often than not during Ange Postecoglou’s final campaign. Brendan Rodgers’ arrival looked as though it would revitalise the centre-back, but injuries have conspired to limit his starts to just three all season.

Welsh took full advantage of his third start on Sunday, putting his body on the line on a number of occasions to ensure that Celtic walked out of Paisley with a clean sheet.

Welsh was comfortable on the ball and showcased some tidy passing, one of the strongest qualities of his game, but he was defensively astute over the course of 90 minutes in a performance that should put him ahead of Maik Nawrocki in the pecking order for the next few weeks until Cameron Carter-Vickers returns from injury.


Leave a Reply