Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic can make it seven wins on the bounce when Kilmarnock make the dreaded trip to Parkhead on Saturday.
The Bhoys are in buoyant mood after the International break and will be determined to continue the run of form that has put them back on top of the table and six points clear.
Celtic can be an intimidating place to visit on the best of occasions, so ninth-placed Killie at least have the luxury of no-one expecting them to take anything from the encounter. So much so that the bookies have them out at around 13/1 to pull off a surprise win but with defeats in their previous two games, it looks like a massive and unlikely ask.
And make no mistake, if the Rugby Park outfit were to win at Celtic it would be a shock akin to the Loch Ness monster basking on the shores by Urquhart Castle and posing for tourist photographs.
That’s no disrespect to Gary Locke’s side, either. It’s just that the Celts have so much more financial clout than any of the other Scottish sides and the pulling power to attract players to match. Ronny Deila would be left furious if his side took their foot off the gas now in the always-important run up to the busy Festive period and although his side haven’t all enjoyed the all break enjoyed by other sides that didn’t have players away with their countries, he’ll still be expecting them to perform as they’ve had a good week to get back into their normal training schedules.
That could be Killie’s best hope of taking something from the game – if some of Celtic’s International stars have been left a bit leg-weary from the travel and games abroad. Tom Rogic was sent home early from Australia with a knock that they'll hope has cleared up in time for the game.
But let’s face it, with defeats in seven of their fourteen fixtures so far this term, Celtic should prove more than a match for the visitors.
Kilmarnock aren’t going to play Celtic off the park, so they’ll have to rely on some grit and steel in the side to try and unsettle the Hoops, to try and knock them out of their stride somehow. Packing the midfield and defending in numbers could help to frustrate not only the Celtic side, but the vociferous Parkhead faithful, too.
Tight man-marking on Celts’ top-gun Leigh Griffiths could also irritate him but they have capable goalscorers throughout the side with ten different players notching so far in the 38 that they’ve wracked up. Killie, by comparison, have 15 – that’s just one more than Griffiths has put away himself.
Play the sensible option and get on a Celtic win. For however attractive those odds on a Kilmarnock sneak victory look, it will be money thrown down a drain. Although Kille took a point off the Glasgow giants earlier in the season at Rugby Park, there chances of doing the same or better in this fixture are as slender as a supermodel with an eating disorder at best.
This is Celtic’s chance to put more daylight between them and the chasing pack and they’ll be looking to take it.
Celtic Stats W11 D2 L1
Recent Form WWWWWW
Kilmarnock Stats W4 D3 L7
Recent Form LDWWLL
12/08/2015 Kilmarnock 2 Celtic 2
15/04/2015 Celtic 4 Kilmarnock 1
05/01/2015 Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 2
26/10/2014 Celtic 2 Kilmarnock 0
14/03/2014 Kilmarnock 0 Celtic 3
Celtic (4-2-3-1) Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Izaguirre, Forrest, Rogic, Brown, Commons, Armstrong, Griffiths.
Kilmarnock (4-2-3-1) –MacDonald, O’Hara, Findlay, Balatoni, McHattie, Smith, Slater, McKenzie, Kiltie, Higginbotham, Magennis.
Celtic: Mulgrew (inj), Johansen (susp), Biton (susp).
Kilmarnock: Johnston (inj), Westlake (inj).