featured

Old Firm performance confirms Celtic faith in Édouard's future

 • by Andrew Gibney
Share:facebooktwitteremail
news now

On Friday night, Celtic sold Moussa Dembélé to Olympique Lyonnais for a reported fee of around £20million.

This meant Sunday’s Old Firm Derby against Rangers would see the beginning of the post-Dembélé era.

Brendan Rodgers would no longer have three strikers to choose from to lead the line and must go through the next few months with Odsonne Édouard and Leigh Griffiths leading the line.

Both offer different traits and will be chosen dependant on the opposition. On Sunday, at Celtic Park, it was the Frenchman who got the nod, fit after missing the 1-0 win over Hamilton Accies.

Rodgers admitted before the game, his permanent summer signing from Paris Saint-Germain wouldn’t last the whole game, meaning we would definitely see Griffiths at some stage.

The 20-year-old had opened the campaign with a goal against Livingston, but the pressure would be increased in the infernal pressure cooker that is the Glasgow derby.

Although he arrived 12 months ago, it would be only his second start against Rangers, he scored twice that day at Parkhead, following on from his goal at Ibrox when he came off the bench back in March.

In contrast, the man he will be replacing enjoyed a tremendous record against Rangers. Starting eight times, winning seven times, scoring seven goals and setting up another four.

Édouard’s €7million move from the Ligue 1 champions this summer now means he will be tasked with filling the boots of a striker who scored 51 times in 94 games for Celtic.

Dembélé may have only found the net nine times in 25 games last term, but as his Old Firm record showed, he is a man for the big occasion and that’s what Édouard has to continue to prove.

He lasted 67 minutes on Sunday and once his number was displayed on the fourth officials board, you could see the workload he had put in had taken it’s toll.

Leaving without finding the net, he did have a hand in the opening goal, linking with Tom Rogic and James Forrest, but the ball was squared to his countryman, Olivier Ntcham, to find the finish.

Édouard has everything you’d want in a front-man, especially at Celtic. Domestically, they will boss possession, teams will sit back and they need a forward who can hold the ball up, bring others into play and get on to the end of crosses.

“He has shown it from the first day he walked in the building. For a boy of 20, it is impressive,” said Rodgers of the Frenchman when he inspired Celtic to a comeback win against Rosenborg in July.

You Might Also Like

“His first goal looked so simple. But when you watch it again, his movement to create the space and then just pass it in was excellent.

“He timed his run for the second goal perfectly. The full-back, the right-back, keeps him onside.

“That is a mark of top, top strikers — a boy to have that confidence on the big occasion. To show that calmness under pressure was brilliant.”

Just before half-time, the French striker should have given the home side the lead when he got on the end of a cross from the left, however, his header was tame and aimed straight in Allan McGregor.

Perhaps with more match practice and back to full capacity, he would have done better, but the movement and awareness was there to get into the right position.

Football Whispers player persona model shows both players aren’t completely different, but Griffiths is a drifter, he’s not a typical No. 9, he’s not going to win aerial battles, but give him the ball to feet and his link up play is as good as anyone, plus he is a danger from wide areas and set-pieces.

Loading...

Both strikers are going to play a lot of minutes this term, and Édouard will learn a lot beside his 28-year-old team-mate, who recently scored his 100th goal for Celtic, coming in just 191 games.

Griffiths has built a career at this level without being the fastest, strongest or biggest striker, on the flip-side, Édouard has all those qualities, plus he is showing he has the movement, control on the ball and skill to do everything the Scotsman does, but progress to a higher level.

Losing Dembélé is a blow, but Celtic have made a profit from selling him on and buying his compatriot on a permanent deal and only 20 years old, and guaranteed minutes to come this term, the green side of Glasgow could witness the birth of a very special talent.

related
content