Rodgers must drop Kuhn to start Celtic ace with “work rate of two players”

    Celtic are back in action once again in the Scottish Premiership this afternoon as they prepare to host their closest rivals in a huge game at Parkhead.

    The Hoops have the chance to move six points clear at the top of the table with just two matches left to play, which would leave them needing just one more point to secure a third successive title.

    However, Brendan Rodgers‘ side are not home and dry yet as they must first overcome Rangers in the Old Firm clash at Paradise today to extend their lead at the top.

    A defeat would leave them level on points with Philippe Clement’s side and make for a nervous end to the campaign, which is why a positive result against the Gers is so important this afternoon.

    The Bhoys come into this match off the back of a convincing 3-0 win over Hearts at Parkhead last time out in the Premiership, but that comfortable result may not result in an unchanged starting XI.

    In fact, Rodgers must ruthlessly drop winger Nicolas Kuhn to the bench in order to unleash Daizen Maeda from the start against the Light Blues.

    Why Nicolas Kuhn should be dropped

    The German forward, who was signed from Rapid Wien in January, produced an underwhelming display against Hearts in the club’s last match and struggled in the last clash with Rangers at Ibrox.

    Against the Jam Tarts, Kuhn completed just 71% of his attempted passes, created one chance, and failed to register a single effort on goal from the right wing.

    The left-footed whiz has now gone five Premiership matches without a goal or an assist to show for his efforts, despite starting all five of those games.

    Nicolas Kuhn

    Vs Rangers (07/04/24)

    Minutes played


    Shots on target


    Big chances created


    Goals + assists


    Duels won


    Pass accuracy

    44% (8/18)

    Stats via Sofascore

    As you can see in the table above, the 24-year-old attacker struggled badly in the last Old Firm matchup as he made very little impact at the top end of the pitch and was a liability in possession.

    He lost the ball 15 times from 30 touches in total, once every other touch on average, and that does not suggest that Rodgers should consider him to be a key player to start this game.

    His recent lack of form in the final third coupled with his poor performance against Rangers last month suggest that he is droppable for this game, which is why the manager should remove him from the starting XI to bring Maeda back into the lineup.

    Why Daizen Maeda should start

    For starters, the Japan international is an important player for the Northern Irish tactician as his work off the ball is crucial to how he wants his team to play.

    Rodgers previously claimed the forward “has the work rate of two players” on the pitch, which speaks to the incredible amount of work the star puts in during matches, in and out of possession.


    He has the pace and determination to track back and put in the hard yards for the team to cut out opposition attacks, which could help to stop the likes of Borna Barisic and Rivan Yilmaz at left-back for Rangers, whilst also carrying an attacking threat of his own at the other end.

    In the clash with Rangers in April, Maeda made his presence felt inside the opening minute of the game with his exceptional pressing that forced a mistake from James Tavernier.

    He closed down the Rangers captain and deflected the ball past Jack Butland with his block on the right-back’s pass on the edge of the box, to put Celtic 1-0 up early on.

    The 26-year-old whiz went on to win nine duels and complete six tackles throughout the match, which speaks to his work rate and defensive quality from a wide position.

    23/24 Premiership

    Daizen Maeda







    Big chances created


    Key passes per game


    Stats via Sofascore

    As you can see in the table above, Maeda has not provided consistent quality in the final third, with just seven goal contributions in 26 matches, but his pressing and work rate make him an ideal selection for an Old Firm clash of this magnitude.

    He may not score or assist goals regularly but, per Rodgers’ comments, Celtic know that they will get 100% from him on the pitch when competing in duels, which is perfect for a tough-tackling derby atmosphere.

    The Japan international is typically deployed on the left flank but the form of James Forrest on that side means that Rodgers should unleash the winger on the right side, ahead of Kuhn, in order to keep the Scottish dynamo in the starting XI for this clash.

    Why James Forrest should start

    The Celtic academy graduate has been in fantastic form of late and deserves to start once again for the Hoops on the left side of the attack today.

    In his last seven appearances for the Scottish giants in all competitions, Forrest has racked up an eye-catching four goals and one assist on the left flank, which includes three goals in his last three outings.

    The 32-year-old ace did not register a goal or an assist against Hearts last time out but he did create two chances and completed three of his four attempted dribbles.


    Forrest was an unused substitute against Rangers at Ibrox in April and should now be presented with a chance to start against the Gers at Parkhead this afternoon, given his superb run of form of late.

    With five goals in four Premiership starts this season, the experienced campaigner has already scored as many or more goals than Maeda, Hyeon-gyu Oh, Reo Hatate, Callum McGregor, Paulo Bernardo, Kuhn, and Hyun-jun Yang, among others in the league.

    This illustrates how impressive his scoring run has been given his lack of consistent minutes in the Scottish top-flight his term, and why he is deserving of more game time on the pitch.

    Forrest should, therefore, start on the left of the front three against Rangers today, with Kyogo Furuhashi down the middle, and Maeda unleashed ahead of Kuhn on the right-hand side.

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