Kilmarnock had a pretty ropy start to the season, defeats to Motherwell and Ross County coming either side of a win at Hamilton, but they travel to Celtic Park tomorrow on a run of three consecutive draws.
They will be confident of scoring (scored in five of their six league games while we’ve yet to keep a clean sheet), and there is the added incentive that if results to their way elsewhere, a win could see they jump to fifth, behind Celtic, Hearts, St Johnstone and Aberdeen.
Brendan Rodgers will have a few selection options to consider with Champions League duty coming up on Wednesday. For these two games we’re going to perm two from Toure, Sviatchenko and Simunovic in central defence, one of Dembele or Griffiths as striker, while Gamboa could make his Celtic Park debut tomorrow. I’m hoping for a straight back four against Manchester City.
The other big area of outfield competition in the team is for the right midfield berth. James Forrest and Patrick Roberts both make good cases for inclusion. Don’t be surprised to see them subbed for each other in each of our next two games.
I see a lot of confidence after the League Cup semi-final draw, pitting us against Newco next month. This game will be six weeks after the 5-1 drubbing at Celtic Park, when a vast chasm between the teams. I expect us to win, but I also expect a considerably more difficult time.
We had the run of the show earlier this month. Moussa Dembele mustn’t have been able to believe the space he got, something denied to him by more tactically aware teams like Alloa and Inverness.
We benefited from the capitulation of one central defender, Senderos, shortly after his partner was subbed as part of a tactical change. The sight of Joey Barton unable to get off the ground to intercept Mikael Lustig’s cross for Celtic’s fourth is unlikely to be repeated.
In short, Newco’s mistakes were so evident and avoidable they are bound not to be repeated. The semi-final will be a different game.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist about last night’s draw but the League Cup has been a financial lifeline to Newco, who were rewarded with large home attendances for earlier rounds, and will already be busy selling premium hospitality content for the semi-final. There could be enough income in this one to buy more Velcro for the roof.
Here we go again………
Hot on the heels of that magnificent news from Mary’s Meals that we will be feeding 650 school kids in Liberia for the next year, I’m running the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon for the Foundation on Sunday, 3 October.
We’re getting to that time of the year when the Foundation’s plans to assist those most chronically in need in our own community need to kick in. The winter challenges aid providers. It kills many poor and homeless.
If you can help, please do. There’s a MyDonate page here. Your money goes straight to the Foundation, where it will used quickly.