Football

Why Celtic Will Be a Completely Different Team When Patrick Roberts Returns to Fitness

Why Celtic Will Be a Completely Different Team When Patrick Roberts Returns to Fitness

Despite beating Zenit in the Europa League last week, there are still improvements to be made at Celtic.

Brendan Rodgers’ men have failed to play at their very best at all this season and the weekend’s 0-0 draw with St Johnstone at home was just another example of that.

Too many times they’ve struggled to break down stubborn opponents when they would have been blasting them out of sight or doing just enough to beat them last season.

But they’re still in with a chance of winning another treble and have a real good opportunity to progress in the Europa League if they can get a positive result in the second leg of their tie against Zenit.

So Celtic should improve – something that will definitely happen when Roberts returns from the injury which has had him on the sidelines since the end of November.

Here’s why:

He Suits the Stubborn Teams

If you look at Roberts’ last campaign, he regularly popped up with big goals and assists in games that Celtic had initially struggled to get going in. Their 4-3 win away at Motherwell, their 2-2 away at Ross County, 5-0 away at Hearts, 1-1 at Manchester City and 3-0 away at Albion Rovers are all examples of games last season that Celtic needed some quality to break down stubborn teams. In all of those games, the results could have been very different had it not been for the goals or assists of the talented winger.

He’s Totally Different to James Forrest

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Forrest has really stepped up to the plate in Roberts’ absence, scoring 16 goals in all competitions to establish himself as an early contender for Player of the Year. But there have been times that an alternative to Forrest would have been ideal for Rodgers. While Forrest excels with space to run into, Roberts’ game is all about beating multiple men with dribbles or one-twos. Teams like St Johnstone, Kilmarnock and Hearts have had success against Celtic this season by limiting space and defending in numbers – and the Hoops have had no Roberts to deal with that.

He Scores Goals Like This

And This

And Sets Up Goals Like This

It’s Been Two Years Since Roberts Lost Domestically

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You have to go back to February of 2016 to find the last time Celtic lost domestically with Roberts in the team. Of course, he’s had some time out injured since then but there’s something to be said for getting that feeling of invincibility back into the team.

And Big Games Are Coming

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Most games are big for Celtic given their targets, but their Scottish Cup quarter final against Morton, trip to Pittodrie to play Aberdeen, trip to Ibrox to play Rangers and potentially more Europa League games are particularly important. And Roberts could come in handy for all of those given what he offers in attack. You’d think Celtic, with that alternative in Roberts, would be a much stronger threat in the most important part of the season.

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