Dress rehearsal at Pittodrie

 

For Celtic supporters everywhere, this season has been one to remember. Even better, the season isn’t over and there’s still more to play for.

The league title was secured last month. We knew it was Celtic’s long before that though.

What remains on the cards for Brendan Rodgers and his team is two-fold. Winning the Scottish Cup to complete a Scottish treble and completing the domestic season unbeaten.

The Scottish Cup is the last game of the season and Brendan will already be preparing for that match by ensuring his players in their best shape. He has the squad to make the changes, but with one eye on an unbeaten run in the league, he won’t be taking any risks.

So tonight’s game at Pittodrie will not be taken lightly by the manager. Celtic are three games away from an unbeaten run in the league, four in the entire domestic season.

Those two goals are driving this team on. Nobody will want to see anything other than achieving both for themselves, the fans and for the club.

There are also a few other milestones and records available. By winning their remaining three league fixtures they could surpass some of the current Scottish records, all held by Celtic.

The club records up for grabs are most wins in a season, consecutive games unbeaten, most points in a season and most goals in a season. These currently stand at 33 wins, 32 games, 103 points and 105 goals.

Celtic are 2 wins, 1 unbeaten game, 6 points and 8 goals away from equalling those respective records with three games in which to do so. It isn’t an impossible task, but in order to match them, or better still beat them, will require a strong finish to the season.

Aberdeen, Partick Thistle and Hearts all stand in the way of that. Tonight, Celtic will be looking to keep that dream alive.

These live Friday night scheduled matches have been great to watch this season. This one has extra meaning and could also been seen as a dress rehearsal for the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden in two weeks time.

Brendan Rodgers is so close to making the same kind impact on Scottish football as Martin O’Neill did. Despite Celtic’s dominance in the Scottish game, trebles are rare things at the club.

The club have only won three domestic trebles in their history. Across the city, their former rivals won the treble seven times before their eventual demise in 2012.

Given the domination by both clubs throughout the history of the Scottish game you would expect those figures to be higher. Celtic certainly should have won more trebles in recent years, but have come unstuck for a variety of reasons – that’s another blog for another time though.

If Brendan were to reach this milestone, he would be in the company of the only other men to have delivered trebles for Celtic. Jock Stein and Martin O’Neill.

Last week against St Johnstone, Celtic went with a few changes, but tonight I expect to see a strong side. Scott Brown is still suspended and Moussa Dembele is currently injured, but Celtic have other players to call upon.

Stuart Armstrong and Tom Rogic are certain to start tonight. With an outstanding Scott Brown missing, the door is open to Callum McGregor, Liam Henderson, Nir Bitton and Eboue Kouassi.

Bitton played the ninety minutes last week and may be preferred in a holding role. However, McGregor has scored in each of Celtic’s last three games against St Johnstone and in the double-header at Ibrox and Hampden.

With Rogic not long back from injury he is unlikely to play the entire match. Therefore McGregor could be seen as one to bring off the bench.

I think Celtic will line up as:

Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Boyata, Simunovic, Bitton, Armstrong, Rogic, Sinclair, Roberts, Griffiths

I expect to see McGregor to appear at some point and possibly James Forrest as well. Here’s to maintaining that unbeaten run.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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