Leaders Celtic face a stern test when in-form Glasgow neighbours Partick Thistle pay them a visit.
The Celts mid-week fixture at Dundee fell foul of the torrential winds and rain that Storm Frank dropped on Scotland and pitches are likely to be holding a bit of water again this weekend which could make the grass cut up and bog down the players somewhat for this Glasgow derby.
The postponement of the game did, however give injury victims Scott Brown and Leigh Griffiths a further chance to recover and they are are expected to return to the Celts squad along with Kris Commons, Mikael Lustig, Efe Ambrose, Dedryck Boyata and Stuart Armstrong who’ve also been on the treatment table in recent weeks, so the Hoops will be just about at full strength for this one.
The stuttering form displayed by the current Champions has seen them take just one point from the last two games and they’ve conceded four times in those games to give boss Ronnie Deila something to ponder defensive wise over the Christmas period.
Celtic haven’t been at their best this season and will probably still take the title at a canter but their fans will be demanding to see an improvement in the displays which have by all accounts been pretty poor. It’s no good just turning up and doing enough to win the game. Celtic’s tradition and history means that the Parkhead faithful want to see something more; attacking flair and passion and entertaining football.
The Jags up the road at Firhill, however, have been the form team in Scotland in recent weeks with six wins and two draws in the ten games prior to their brilliant mid-week goalless shut-out at title chasing Aberdeen.
The potential for a surprise result is certainly there on paper and Thistle will approach the game feeling that they can at least put Celtic under a ton of pressure and try and force the issue from there. Football is all about confidence and while the Jags are bristling with it, Celtic are certainly off the boil and would have liked to have tried to have got a win under their belts at Dundee to ease some of the intense scrutiny that they now find themselves under.
The first goal will certainly be important in this game and if Partick can come out of the blocks and play without any fear then they can certainly give under-pressure Deila’s side further jitters. Alan Archibald’s side are looking solid at the back at present and although Kris Doolan is the main goal threat, the likes of David Amoo need to start finding the back of the net with a bit more regularity. They’re certainly capable of it and just need to display a bit more composure when the opportunities present themselves.
If the Jags can defend like they did at Aberdeen in preventing the Reds from going top, then they have a decent chance of making Celtic sweat for the win. And at bumper odds of 11/1, they may be worth a punt at sneaking it themselves.
Celtic Stats W13 D4 L2
Recent Form WDWWLD
Partick Thistle Stats W6 D6 L7
Recent Form DWWWWD
09/08/2015 Partick Thistle 0 Celtic 2
08/04/2015 Celtic 2 Partick Thistle 0
11/02/2015 Partick Thistle 0 Celtic 3
03/12/2014 Celtic 1 Partick Thistle 0
29/10/2014 Celtic 6 Partick Thistle 0
Celtic (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic, Tierney, Bitton, McGregor, Commons, Rogic, Forrest; Ciftci.
Partick Thistle (4-4-2) Cerny, Dumbuya, Lindsay, Seaborne, Booth, Osman, Edwards, Lawless, Amoo, Bannigan, Doolan.
Celtic: Mulgrew (inj).
Partick Thistle: Elliot (inj).