Leaders Celtic host a Motherwell side battling to move clear of the Scottish Premier League relegation zone.
The Celts went four points clear of second-placed Aberdeen at the top with a comfortable 3-0 victory at a St. Johnstone side that had won five and drawn one of their previous six games before the clash. Despite a hard-fought first half, Celtic cruised to the points with two from Nadir Ciftci and a powerful header from Dedryk Boyata as they continue to stamp their authority on the table in a ten-game unbeaten run where they’ve won eight and drawn two.
And with striker Anthony Stokes due back from a two-game suspension, the Hoops can further add to their attacking options in a game where you feel that the Steelmen will not only have to park the team bus in the penalty area but pack in the training ground free kick dummies, their whole team and the kitchen sink to put the skids on the defending Champions’ run.
Ronny Deila’s side could probably go out on the Christmas party the night before and show up with hangovers and still win this one. The Norwegian will guard against any complacency, however, and demand a high work ethic from his side. It’s not in their nature to take chances and if they smell blood, they’ll go straight for the jugular and could rip Motherwell apart if they net early on.
Celtic dug in when St. Johnstone put them under pressure for spells last Sunday and have the fighting spirit to go alongside the skills, tricks and flicks that they are capable of turning on. However, Kilmarnock turned up at Celtic Park last month and managed to shut them out so that has to give ‘Well boss Mark McGhee a glimmer of hope.
He’ll be keen to put one over his old side and going to Parkhead holds no surprises for him or his team, who only went down 1-0 to the Celts back in October. They were boosted by a 3-1 win over Dundee last weekend that dragged them out of the relegation zone and have only been beaten twice in their last six encounters.
The scrap for the relegation play-off place is really heating up with just five points between 11th and 6th spot, so every point counts and you have to feel that if Motherwell could nick a draw here, they’d be delighted. Three points would put them in dreamland. But it’s the sides round about that McGhee will be targeting and anything that they can pick up off the top sides would just be a welcome bonus.
However, with Aberdeen breathing down their necks, the chances are that Celtic will be right up for this one and you can expect no slip-ups. The odds aren’t great but get on a home win in this one. If it doesn't come in it will be a real coupon buster.
Celtic Stats W12 D3 L1
Recent Form WWWDWW
Motherwell Stats W5 D3 L9
Recent Form DWLLDW
17/10/2015 Motherwell 0 Celtic 1
21/01/2015 Celtic 4 Motherwell 0
06/12/2014 Motherwell 0 Celtic 1
21/09/2014 Celtic 1 Motherwell 1
19/04/2014 Motherwell 3 Celtic 3
Celtic (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Izaguirre; McGregor, Johansen; Forrest, Rogic, Armstrong; Ciftci.
Motherwell (4-4-2) – Ripley, Law, Hall, McManus, Hammell, Grimshaw, Lasley, Pearson, Johnson, McDonald, Moult.
Celtic: Mulgrew (inj), Brown (inj),