After the midweek high of winning 6-0 in the League Cup it’s back to Premiership matters for Ronny Deila. He will be pleased with the way his players despatched of Partick Thistle on Wednesday night and now they must roll over that form to the match against Inverness Caledonian Thistle this afternoon.
The League Cup tie witnessed John Guidetti tear Partick Thistle apart. He was fouled continually by several players with one such opponent earning himself a red card.
Take nothing away from Guidetti, he harassed the visitors cleanly all night and bagging a hat-trick was the icing on the cake. The best bit about his goals though was the fact they were all dead ball scenarios, executed with precision.
If that wasn’t good enough, then Emilio Izaguirre scoring only his second goal for Celtic was. He’s worked hard this season and scoring with his weaker right foot will be one for the memory banks.
Then there is Leigh Griffiths, the forgotten man. Overlooked for much of this season, his appearance was as much of a surprise as it was welcome.
I’m no fan of his off the field lifestyle but he knows where the goal is. He got the nod to come off the bench ahead of Stefan Šćepović and didn’t disappoint either.
With a bullet header from a corner ball and a lucky deflection from an attacking challenge, two goals is a nice return for a substitute appearance. To be fair to him, Griffiths also did a lot of support work as well.
By the time Šćepović did appear, Griffiths was trying to help him get on the score sheet, a noble gesture from a player who rarely gets a game. Šćepović came close on a few occasions but it was not to be though the Serbian is looking more confident.
The question for Deila is who does he play and who does he drop? With form still firmly in focus, the manager will be looking to retain balance and consistency without the kind of tinkering witnessed earlier in the season.
He has so many options, particularly when everyone is fit. Its a real test for any team when they lose influential players through injury or suspension and Ronny Deila has had to contend with that from the beginning of his reign.
In early July club captain Scott Brown picked up a preseason injury in a friendly and subsequently sat out for three months. Adam Matthews and Mikael Lustig have both had injury woes an and barely been available for selection until now.
Long term doubt James Forrest, so good for Celtic when injury free, continues to battle constant injury. A fully fit version can do the damage in any match but Celtic must find a long term solution to his recurring injuries.
Kris Commons, one of Celtic’s best performers has been sidelined more recently. He will be back soon as well just to make that selection headache somewhat greater.
With less key players on the treatment table and new players finding their feet, it seems Celtic are beginning to flourish. This is just the start though and there is still work to be done as I’m sure Ronny Deila will tell you.
That work must continue today at Celtic Park when Inverness Caledonian Thistle provide the opposition. A victory will not only keep Celtic moving toward top spot but it would be the first time this season they’ve managed four consecutive competitive wins.
In terms of league position, a victory could put Celtic in first, second or third place depending on other Premiership results. The top six is tight right now with only four points separating sixth placed Aberdeen from joint top Hamilton and Inverness.
You can take nothing away from this group of teams because they are all there on merit. Celtic have lost to each of the top two so far and and it is those victories that separate the them in terms of points.
Whilst those defeats have yet to be exorcised, Celtic still have one game at hand. Inverness may come looking for a draw, perhaps they might feel they can get more but Celtic have to be clinical no matter what.
A strong crowd would be good today, particularly as the attendance’s have been so low of recent. With a 3pm kick off and no live TV coverage that may just be possible.
Top spot is now within reaching distance and a vein of good form is in flow so perhaps more fans who can afford the day out will go along to support that. No doubts, players and fans both compliment each other and hopefully we’ll see the stands filling up again and the team’s consistency growing.
Nothing less than three points will do today. Be it win pretty or win ugly.