The title race in Scotland is heating up following the resurgence of Rangers under Steven Gerrard. Celtic, the reigning champions, are relishing the battle too and the return of Leigh Griffiths on Saturday afternoon must be a massive boost for the Hoops who are also aiming for European glory having made it through to the knockouts of Europa League already with two games remaining.
The 29-year-old has been stalwart at Parkhead ever since his winter move from Wolves back in 2014. He has found the net 107 times in 211 appearances and maintained his talismanic status for years before taking a break from the game a year ago due to personal reasons. The Scotsman returned to action in summer, but things have not been the same for him as before following the emergence of Odsonne Edouard as the new Celtic ‘number 9’.
Griffiths has appeared only nine times since coming on as a substitute against Kilmarnock on December 8 last year. His previous appearance this season was three months back against Hearts as a late replacement of Vakoun Issouf Bayo. Still, the minutes versus Livi would help him regain confidence ahead of a busy winter schedule.
Time For The Celtic Cult Hero To Step Up And Deliver?
While the two famous rivals are set to clash heads next month in the League Cup final at Hampden Park, Celtic legend Chris Sutton has demanded ruthlessness from Neil Lennon in reintegrating Griffiths to the first-team set-up.
“And Lennon has to be ruthless in that respect which I’m sure everyone can understand. If you ask the gaffer straight, he’d like Griffiths back playing regularly and helping the team to honours at the end of the season.”
Sutton wrote for the Daily Record highlighting Griffiths’ influence as ‘a £20m signing’.
Why The Hoops Need Him Now?
Edouard is in stunning form with his work rate and persistent contribution in the attacking third with goals and assists. But the Frenchman does not have an able alternative with Bayo failing to settle in despite the glimpses of his quality.
The Gers have Alfredo Morelos firing in the week in week out, whereas the experience of Jermain Defoe as his understudy is allowing them to grind out results under pressure.
Griffiths holds years of experience in this part of the world and therefore, must justify his reputation by stepping up in the second half of the season. Celtic have not only shown patience but also offered him help throughout this period, and it is high time for the centre-forward to pay it back to maintain their superiority in Scottish football.
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