Celtic 2020/21 Season Preview: Strengths, Weaknesses, Key Man and Predictions

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon hopes to have another successful season with Celtic | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

While the football in England comes to an end, those north of the border don't have to wait long for their teams to return to competitive action.

Celtic kick off their 2020/21 Scottish Premiership season on Sunday with a home game against Hamilton. It marks the start of what could be a memorable year for the club, as they aim to win their tenth consecutive league title.

How likely are they to achieve that? Well, read on...

Last Season

Scott Brown
Celtic won the Scottish League Cup last season | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Celtic's 2019/20 season went pretty much as expected - they won every league game bar four before the coronavirus pandemic curtailed the campaign.

Sure, defeats against Livingston and bitter rivals Rangers would have stung - but they were merely small blemishes in an excellent season, storming 13 points clear at the top of the table and conceding just the 19 goals in their 30 games. They also defeated the Gers 1-0 to lift the Scottish League Cup for a fourth straight season back in December.

They were impressive in topping a tough Europa League group including the likes of Lazio and Rennes, before being knocked out by Copenhagen in the round of 32. It also should be noted that they still have a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen to take care of in November, leaving a fourth consecutive treble just two (belated) games away.

Pre-Season

Celtic endured a tough defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in France
Celtic endured a tough defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in France | Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The Bhoys' pre-season can be divided into two halves. The first was disappointing, the French leg starting with a 1-1 draw with Nice before a 2-1 defeat to Lyon. There was still time for a crushing 4-0 loss at Paris Saint-Germain before they headed back to Glasgow.

Back on home turf, they put aside more familiar opposition with ease, beating Ross County 2-0 before signing off with a 3-1 win over Hibernian, young Polish forward Patryk Klimala netting a brace.

Transfers In

Vassilis Barkas
Barkas is expected to be Lennon's number one goalkeeper this season | TF-Images/Getty Images

The Glasgow club have only made two signings so far in a quiet window. Goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas was signed for around £5m and is expected to be their first-choice shot-stopper with Fraser Forster returning south of the border, while Southampton winger Mohamed Elyounoussi has returned for a second season on another loan deal.

With the Scottish transfer window open until 5 October, there remains plenty of time for Neil Lennon to strengthen his side further, particularly in attack. West Ham striker Albian Ajeti has been linked with a move to Celtic Park, as have free agent Steven Fletcher and Peterborough forward Ivan Toney.

Transfers Out

Craig Gordon
Veteran goalkeeper Craig Gordon has left the club on a free deal | Callum Landells/Getty Images

While Celtic have retained the bulk of their squad, they did part ways with veterans Craig Gordon and Jonny Hayes on free transfers. Centre-back Jozo Šimunović has also left the team as a free agent, while midfielder Eboue Kouassi has moved on to Belgian side Genk after three years in Scotland.

Fringe defender Jack Hendry has also left on loan to Oostende, while loanees Forster and Daniel Arzani have gone back to their parent clubs.

Strengths

Ryan Christie
Ryan Christie's goals help Celtic become a well-rounded potent offensive team | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Bhoys have made their attack a lot more potent, with their midfielders stepping up to take on more of the goalscoring responsibility. The trio of Ryan Christie, James Forrest and Callum McGregor all reached double figures in all competitions, while Elyounoussi and Olivier Ntcham chipped in several strikes of their own.

Up front, Odsonne Édouard continues to grow in confidence as he leads their frontline, with Leigh Griffiths a handy back-up for when the Frenchman is injured. If the pair, along with their supporting cast behind them, continue to elevate their game in the final third, they could go one better than last season and average a full three goals per league game.

Weaknesses

Kris Ajer, Craig Wighton
An injury to Kristoffer Ajer could be hugely costly to Celtic's hopes for a successful season | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Squad depth remains a major concern for Celtic fans, with particular worries in attack and defence.

With Griffiths and Édouard the only proven strikers in their team, it's not a surprise that they're still looking to invest in greater support for the duo. Lennon only has three centre-backs at his disposal, and a costly injury to Kristoffer Ajer or Christopher Jullien could leave them vulnerable at the back.

Key Man

Odsonne Edouard
Odsonne Édouard is the key man up front for Celtic | Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It has to be Édouard, whose 22 league goals helped fire the Hoops to the title last season. The 22-year-old continues to improve his finishing with every passing campaign, and won the Scottish Football Writers' Association Player of the Year last season for his ability in front of goal.

Fast and technically gifted with the ball, the Frenchman has become an effective lone striker for the team, and will be counted on to produce at the offensive end if the club are to win their tenth league title in a row.

Prediction

Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon will hope to win Celtic's tenth league title in a row | Michael Steele/Getty Images

The Bhoys are favourites to win the league...again. With few changes to the playing squad, Lennon has a settled side fully prepared to go for the Premiership, while balancing out his cup obligations.

Increased squad depth will help to determine if they can finish off a fourth a set up a fifth domestic treble, while they should be confident of making it into the Champions League proper through negotiating their way through the qualification rounds.

While Rangers will be determined to cut down the gap between the two Glasgow clubs, Celtic will have the quality to set themselves apart once again.