While we all want to have a party on Sunday, the first priority is to win the tactical battle. Normally, I would be anxious to control the middle of the park, but Celtic’s impressive defensive record indicates midfield may not be as crucial.
Newco were the last domestic team to score against Celtic that was not a penalty (Hearts) or a goal that even the Motherwell manager admitted his team had to subvert the rules of sportsmanship to record.
By comparison, Newco have conceded 10 since facing Celtic in December; Celtic are defensively solid, Newco are not. If the game is tight, we should be confident of defending and hopeful of exploiting some of the defensive anxiety that Newco suffered in recent games.
Brendan Rodgers had selection problems at Ibrox in December, resorting to play Mickey Johnston as striker (unsuccessfully) and Callum McGregor as left back (to his cost elsewhere). Neil Lennon also has selection problems for tomorrow, but of a different nature.
Dedryck Boyata will start, but I’m not sure if Kristoffer Ajer or Filip Benkovic will partner him. Heart says Ajer (one of our own), head says Benkovic (so impressive). I expect Jeremy Toljan to get the nod over Mikael Lustig.
James Forrest, Scott Sinclair, Odsonne Edouard, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown and Callum McGregor will all start, leaving one midfield space available for Ewan Henderson, Tom Rogic, Olivier Burke, Mikey Johnston or, at a push, Olivier Ntcham.
Tom terrifies this team. If he has 60 minutes in him, he should start, and if he starts, he will punish them. If Tom is not fit, Ewan Henderson has done enough to suggest he has the craft for this occasion.
The two games between these teams this season have ended in a comprehensive 1-0 home win for each side. This is an historic high for Newco, but you and me have missed what we were beginning to regards as customary four or five goal winning margins. Neil Lennon will want the win most of all, but you also know the manner he would like to achieve this.