The absence of Jozo Simunovic for our Champions League game in Monchengladbach set off alarm bells, but few of us expected that he was rested as a consequence of being on a one-game-per-week long-term recuperation strategy.
This was a bold decision by what is clearly a confident manager. It was also informative that Brendan Rodgers prioritised the league game against Aberdeen to deploy Jozo over the Champions League – an equally bold decision. Defensive performances in both games suggest the manager made the right call.
This is the kind of gamble that is going Brendan Rodgers’ way but which would have backfired on Ronny Deila. It’s not down to luck, of course. Brendan has proven the point that defences are systems more than anything else. Get the system right and you can move the players around. Get it wrong, as we did in Barcelona, and it doesn’t matter which or how many defenders you deploy, you’ll take a hiding.
After surviving an onslaught at home to Celtic in September, Inverness scored an added-time equaliser to deny Celtic their only league points of the season. Since then our domestic form has been even better than it was before that game, winning everything for the loss of only a single goal in seven outings.
One thing we know about Inverness-Celtic games, though, is that lightening doesn’t only strike once, or twice for that matter. This team have punished Celtic repeatedly over the last 16 years, usually against the odds. Their only defeat since an abysmal August came against Newco, who denied the Highlanders their own onslaught. That was also the only game Inverness failed to score since Same Old Alloa dumped them out of the League Cup in August.
After tomorrow’s visit of Inverness, Celtic’s only home game in the next six is against Barcelona. If Brendan was to cast his eye over the fixture list for opportunities to experiment, this is as good an opportunity as he’ll have until Accies visit on 13 December.
Maybe an opportunity to go one at the back and five up front. Or just to give Patrick a start. Either works for me.