It has been ten days since Celtic exited the Europa League at the hands of Inter Milan. Since then its been back to domestic business and the Hoops have played two matches in the Premiership.
Bouncing back from European defeat came in the form of a 4-0 thumping of title challengers, Aberdeen last Sunday. This was an excellent response from Ronny Deila’s players.
With Aberdeen put to bed for now, the midweek challenge at home to St Johnstone seemed like routine business. As it was, the Perth side had other ideas and Celtic lost to a solitary goal from outside the box.
I felt there could be a potential slip up going into that game. A home match which may have seemed like a foregone conclusion playing against a mid-tabled team.
Credit to St Johnstone for organising themselves in the fashion which most clubs do at Celtic Park these days. Its the only way they know how to avoid defeat and they got the points.
As much as it is a minor setback, Celtic must also heed the warning from this result. It would have been an opportunity to go 9 points clear of Aberdeen, but it is also a reminder that this title will not come to Celtic Park easily.
The timeliness of this result comes just before Celtic embark on a triple bill of encounters with Jackie McNamara’s Dundee United. They currently lie 4th in the Premiership but still pose a great threat to Celtic’s title and cup hopes.
First up is today’s Scottish Cup Quarter Final at Tannadice. The last visit there by Celtic ended in a 2-1 defeat.
The winner that day was scored by new Bhoy, Stuart Armstrong. He, along with Gary Mackay-Steven are both cup-tied for today’s encounter and next weeks as well.
The addition of these two players have been a fantastic boost for Ronny Deila. Like Dundee United though, Celtic will have to do without both, or at least for the next two matches anyway.
United will be looking to up there game which has suffered at the loss of Armstrong and Mackay-Steven. With home advantage they’ll be looking to inflict a similar result on Celtic as they did on 21st December.
For Celtic that means they will need to be at their best and shrug off Wednesday’s set back. Ronny Deila must shuffle the pack to bring balance back into the team which will be missing some key players this afternoon.
With injuries and cup tied players affecting the starting eleven, its time for those in reserve to step up and play their part. Stokes, Wakaso, Forrest, Fisher, McGregor and Henderson are all capable on their day and today could be the day for all or some of them to prove that.
If the treble is truly being sought then a victory on today will be a step nearer to making that happen. Further crucial matches against Dundee United await in the weeks ahead.