Having pummelled Newco repeatedly this season there is a notion that we’re going to do it again on Sunday. I’d be tempted to hold that result. St Mirren, an inferior team, demonstrated for 57 minutes how far blanket defending and a bit of organisation can take you. If Celtic record an impressive result at the weekend, they will have to be at the peak of their powers.
We can expect Newco will have watched replays of the opening 20 minutes of our Hogmanay tie dozens of times recently. They will do their best to capture what worked for them during that period, and attempt to replicate it on Sunday.
We started slowly that day, which is not entirely out of character, but one or two also looked spooked by the occasion. Newco started on the front foot, again, something they repeatedly do, but just as they have done throughout the season, they soon ran out of steam.
There is not a great deal they will be able to do about Moussa Dembele, short of cutting off supply to him. As a consequence, they will stick tight to Scott Sinclair, who will have work to do to even get involved in the game, never mind hurt the opposition. This is no bad thing, as while Scott is our most productive player, the team will be full of players hungry and capable of hurting the Newco defence.
This is a game which could be in the balance with 15 minutes remaining, but which Celtic could score three times in the closing period. They have the superior fitness and mental fortitude.
Our greatest danger will be from officialdom. Conceding a penalty, a red card, or both, opens the only door possible for Newco to take anything from the game. Keep cool heads as we’ll do just fine.