Many of our early season concerns manifest themselves in the performances against Dundee. A 1-1 draw at Dens on the last day of the summer transfer window, followed by a 2-1 win at Celtic Park in November, told the story of a club just about getting by on the domestic front.
The Celtic Park win saw us go seven points ahead of Aberdeen on the same games played, but defeat to a Stuart Armstrong goal for Dundee United, and a home draw against bottom of the table Ross County, briefly gave us what looked like a genuine championship challenge.
Something happened at Rugby Park in the first week of the year. Kris Commons was sublime but the improvement in Celtic’s performance was due to more than just him. We’ve won six games on the bounce, without losing a goal, with convincing performances, in all but away to Ross County, who belie their lowly position to squeeze every ounce of effort out of Celtic.
Before last week’s game at Hampden it was possible to find plenty of “Celtic are rubbish as well” comments. We were rubbish, earlier in the season, but you’ve watched the team grow in recent months. So much so that it’s becoming difficult to give an honest opinion on the goalkeeper, he is so rarely troubled.
Forged on the road
On Wednesday we have the Glasgow derby against Partick Thistle, before a trip to Perth next weekend, often a difficult venue for Celtic. That will bring to end a nine game run since New Year, with only one game at Celtic Park. The growth in the team has been forged on the road, often on smaller grounds with variable surfaces.
The return to Celtic Park, on Thursday 19, against the Italians with their famous blue and black stripes, will present Ronny Deila and his players with a bigger challenge. It’s not a must-win game, but it’s an absolutely necessary test to a team who are looking more and more imperious in Scotland with each passing week.
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