Five things we learned from Ross County 0 - 1 Celtic

Joel Sked gives his take on Celtic's latest victory as they narrowly defeated a spirited performance by Ross County.

Celtic's Scott Brown holds off Ross County's Davis Keillor-Dunn. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker
Celtic's Scott Brown holds off Ross County's Davis Keillor-Dunn. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker

What’s the point?

Sometimes you have to ask yourself ‘why?’ and/or ‘what’s the point?’ because, sometimes, football is just rubbish. This afternoon was one of those times. Celtic’s win in Dingwall will not live long in the memory.

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Surely there are better things we could be doing with our Saturday afternoon than suffering through that. There’s places to see, people to meet, food to eat, drink to...drink. The game wasn’t played at a particularly high tempo, there was little intensity and passes were wayward and creativity rare. But even the haplessness wasn’t entertaining. It was the perfect cure for insomnia.

Yet, the keyword is ‘suffering’. Sometimes, when it comes to football, you have to suffer. Otherwise what’s the point?

That’s the point!

You suffer. Suffer. Suffer some more. And then it happens. The moment that wakens you from your slumber. The moment which stops you questioning your life decisions up until now. Well, halts it for the time being.

Leigh Griffiths stood over a dead ball more than 25 yards from goal, takes a few steps back then curls it up, up over the wall where the ball goes up some more before dropping into the top corner.

It was a fantastic free-kick. There wasn’t much pace on it but there was curl, trajectory, accuracy. Artistry. Taking the occasion out of the equation the goal was better than those netted against England.

What it did was epitomise the gap Celtic have opened over everyone else. It was one of the worst performances under Rodgers but off the bench Celtic have an abundance of options and sheer quality.

Griffiths also offered better delivery from corner kicks, silencing the nonsensical argument that the striker should be in the box for corners. Why, if he is the best deliverer of the ball?

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What’s up, Scott Sinclair?

Is it time for Scott Sinclair to be dropped? People may read that and head straight to the comment sections, which is understandable considering he is arguably the best player in the league and is on 11 goals for the season.

However, once again he was below par on the left side of midfield, controlled throughout by Jason Naismith. Teams have become wise to Celtic’s biggest threat, namely the bond which Kieran Tierney and Sinclair possess. When the duo link effectively it is frightening; like a perfect symphony, the finest wine, watching Jurassic Park for the first time.

It says a lot about how threatening he is. Teams man mark and double up on Sinclair, fearful of what he can do. But he has netted only once in the last 500 minutes or so of league action, while when Celtic have needed a big performance against the big teams in Europe he has not quite stepped up to the mark.

A break from first team action, giving teams other players to think about, while allowing Sinclair to reset . Or it may be a case for Rodgers to rejig the attacking line-up, giving Sinclair a new role which may ask different questions of both the player and the opposition.

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Davis Keillor-Dunn good

There would be no surprise if Brendan Rodgers looked on and was most excited about Ross County’s number 40. The precocious talent of Davis Keillor-Dunn was one of the positives from the afternoon. His performance on the left hand side of midfield was excellent.

The 20-year-old was diligent, intelligent and exciting. He was positive and composed in possession and industrious out of it. He had a couple of shots which went close but most impressively was when he took possession in tight spaces. There was no fear or panic, he simply protected the ball and shifted it on nonchalantly.

He seems the kind of talent that Rodgers would enjoy working with, moulding in to an attacking force. Yet, fortunately for Owen Coyle he is County’s and a player they should be looking to build around and support before selling on for a tidy price, more than the club received for Jackson Irvine or Liam Boyce.

Defensive masterclass

Okay, Ross County lost. But defensively they were excellent. To a man the whole team put in an excellent shift. They started positively pressing Celtic high up the pitch but their best work came in crowding out attacks through the middle, while Jason Naismith put in a fine individual performance.

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How well County defended is emphasised with a telling statistic: Celtic did not have a single shot in the first half. When Celtic did get down the sides the positioning of defenders was excellent to thwart any cut backs.

As ever against Celtic, luck is required and they got that when Christopher Routis felled Callum McGregor in the area, while Rodgers felt the grass was too long and the ground bobbly, effecting his team’s fluency and speed of their game.

However, the main reason for Celtic’s ‘struggles’ was County and how they made it difficult for the champions in waiting with a wonder strike needed to separate the sides.