SPL leaders Celtic need to re-charge their batteries ahead of the Glasgow derby with Partick Thistle as Aberdeen are now breathing down their necks at the top.
Celtic are just one point clear but have a game in hand on the north-east side and they will have to make that count against a team that have failed to score against them in the last six meetings between the teams.
The Bhoys were booed off the park following the goalless draw with Dundee at Celtic Park last time out and boss Ronny Deila was left questioning his side’s energy levels.
“It was a poor performance from start to finish all over the pitch - we looked slow and were always a metre late. It is about getting energy back. It seemed they had flat batteries,” he said.
Celtic had also been held to a 1-1 draw by Hamilton Accies in the previous match as their bid to bring home a fifth successive SPL title has started to lose just a little momentum.
“I believe that we can turn this around. Everybody goes through hard periods, but still we are top and we’re going to bounce back again and win this league,” said a confident Deila.
Celtic have a vastly superior goal difference to the Dons, having wracked up a substantial haul of 70 goals for so far this term, helped in no small part by 26 goal top scorer Leigh Griffiths, who is back from the treatment table and will look to add to that tally against the eighth-placed neighbours.
Thistle boss Alan Archibald wasn’t too downbeat after his side’s narrow defeat to Hearts last weekend and will also take spirit from the character his showed against Aberdeen when they took the but went down to two late goals in a minute.
“The players are incredibly fit, which is all credit to Junior Mendes and his sports science team. We didn’t really suffer from tiredness in what was a draining match. The performance was good and while we didn’t create as many clear cut chances as we would have liked, we were very solid defensively,” said Archibald after the loss at Hearts.
“We’ve used a few different players over the last few games, just to freshen it up and keep the side at its strongest for every match. The hard run isn’t over yet, we have another two games in the week ahead and we’ll continue to utilise our squad as best we can to get as many points as we can from what will be two very difficult games.”
David Amoo in particular was a constant thorn in Aberdeen’s side in mid-week and the boss will be looking for him to test the defending Champion’s back line – but it may be in defence and frustrating the Celtic strikers where Archibald’s side’s strength lays.
“It’s disappointing to lose narrowly, but what it has shown the players is that they can match the best in the league,” said Archibald.
“We conceded a goal from a set piece through a defensive mistake and there is plenty to be encouraged about. If we can take the same application and commitment, along with a little bit more belief then there is no reason why we can’t pick up points, particularly at Firhill.”
Partick Thistle Recent Form WWLWLL
Celtic Recent Form LLWWDD
02/01/2016 Celtic 1 Partick Thistle 0
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
Partick Thistle (4-4-2) Cerny, Elliott, Lindsay, Seaborne, Booth, Osman, Welsh, Amoo, Lawless, Fraser, Pogba.
Celtic (4-4-2) – Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Sviatchenko, Tierney, Bitton, Brown, Mackay-Steven, Rogic, Armstrong, Griffiths.
Partick Thistle: Dumbuya (inj), Bannigan (inj).
Celtic: Celtic: Johansen (inj), Simunovic (inj).