CELTIC have conceded only 20 goals in 35 Premiership games this season.

Joe Hart and Co have the best defensive record in the top flight, losing nine goals fewer than the next best Rangers.

The consistent rearguard has contributed massively towards the superior goal difference of plus-19 as the Hoops zero in on their tenth title in 11 years with a six-point advantage and only three games still to play.

However, former Parkhead midfielder Kris Commons insists Ange Postecoglou MUST improve his back four in time for the new campaign.

The Premiership pacesetters, who have remained at the pinnacle since taking over from Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team following the 3-0 derby victory in the east end of Glasgow at the start of February, are at home to Hearts on Saturday with Motherwell due seven days later and with a trip to Tannadice to face Dundee United in between.

THE OPENER…Filipe Jota races away in triumph after putting Celtic ahead with Matt O’Riley in hot pursuit.

Filipe Jota gave Ange Postecoglou’s men the lead in the 21st minute in the fourth league derby of the term before Fashion Sakala fired in an equaliser in the 67th minute and the hosts had an uncomfortable time with Hart denying the same player with an acrobatic tip-over and then clawing away a low shot from Scott Arfield.

And the visitors were out of luck when an effort from Sakala slammed off the base of the upright and rebounded to safety four minutes from the end.

Commons said: “I still feel like Celtic cough up far too many chances in big games against opposition who have some quality to exploit them in the final third.

“It’s all well and good when you are dominating possession of the ball and scoring five or six goals against the likes of Dundee, St Mirren or St Johnstone.

“Against the smaller teams, Celtic press so high and so aggressively that they absolutely squeeze the life out of their opponents.

THE EQUALISER…Fashion Sakala celebrates hitting Rangers’ goal.

“There have been some games this season where they have enjoyed well over 80 per cent of possession. It’s incredible to watch when they are in full flow.

“But there’s still a nervousness and a fragility to their defence against teams with a bit more quality and bravery to engage them higher up the pitch.

“We’ve seen it all season. In conceding 15 times across six games in the group stage of the Europa League, Postecoglou’s side shipped more goals than any other team in the competition.

“Bodo/Glimt then ran riot in the Europa Conference League, beating Celtic 5-1 on aggregate over the two legs.”

AIR WE GO…Joe Hart acrobatically tips over a raging drive from Fashion Sakala.

Commons, speaking to the Daily Mail, continued: “There’s a glass jaw to this Celtic team and we saw it once again against Rangers yesterday. Plainly, Rangers will be kicking themselves that they didn’t leave Parkhead with three points.

“Celtic were there for the taking.

“In the end, they were lucky to draw. Fashion Sakala could quite easily have had a hat-trick on a different day.

“Ryan Kent also missed a good chance, while Joe Hart produced a great save to deny Scott Arfield in the second-half.

“Don’t get me wrong, Celtic missed a few chances of their own. But if we’re talking about how Postecoglou can improve this team, the defence looks to be an obvious starting point.”

Former Scotland international playmaker Commons added: “There’s no doubt Carl Starfelt has improved over the course of the season from the player who first arrived in Glasgow last summer.

“He can look good at times and, in fairness, he dealt with a lot of danger really well yesterday. But he still makes me nervous.

THE LAST POST…Fashion Skala thumps an effort wide of Joe Hart only to see the ball strike the woodwork.

“He’s one of these players who always just seems liable to throw in a mistake out of nowhere. Particularly in possession of the ball, he doesn’t inspire confidence.

“Cameron Carter-Vickers has been good, but, in the bigger picture, he was still part of a Celtic defence that coughed up far too many chances.

“You have to remember that this was a Rangers team who were playing without a recognised striker in the absence of both Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe. Sakala is not a natural No 9.

“Yet Celtic still had trouble dealing with Rangers’ attacking threat. That’s an area Postecoglou must address moving forward.”


About Author


Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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