This evening Celtic entertain St Johnstone at Celtic Park in their final match of the month. It has been a perfect start to 2019 so far for Brendan Rodgers’ side having scored ten goals and conceded zero in the three games played.
On paper, it has also been a relatively straightforward list of home fixtures with Celtic playing two of the bottom three clubs in the Premiership and a mid-table League One side in the Scottish Cup. Tonight though they’ll get a more realistic challenge from St Johnstone.
Tommy Wright’s side are generally always up for it against Celtic whether it is Glasgow or Perth. The Saints lie in 6th place in the Premiership eleven points off top spot and they’ve managed to overtake early pace setters Hibernian and Livingston.
After Derek McInnes, Wright is the longest-serving manager in the Scottish Premiership. And even then, their tenures are separated by just a couple of months.
Surviving in the top flight under the same management shows a level of consistency. Battling the best teams in the league and getting a result shows something more.
In twenty-one meetings, Tommy Wright has lost fifteen times to Celtic since he took charge of St Johnstone. Four were draws and twice he has won, the last victory being recorded in May 2016 in the final days of Ronny Deila.
St Johnstone can boast an impressive away record in the league this season though. That said, they will be facing a Celtic side who are unbeaten at home in the league since May 13th 2018, Celtic’s last home game of the season.
That was to Aberdeen, but Brendan Rodgers remains undefeated to St Johnstone. Few Scottish clubs have put one over Brendan since he took charge nearly the years ago – five teams and eight defeats to be exact.
This evening, he will be looking to continue Celtic’s domestic winning run at home this season, and finish off the month without conceding a goal. There will be tougher games ahead and tonight will be a step up from the last three fixtures.
Celtic have added to the squad in January and there is still an opportunity to add more before the window closes. With a batch of players already out of contention, the last thing Brendan Rodgers needed was another injury, but that is just what he got.
We await confirmation on the Filip Benkovic injury, with his setback adding to the number of players already on the sidelines. The question is, will this spark the club into drafting in more players before the window closes?
With Benkovic joining Dedryck Boyata on the treatment table, Brendan will have to decide whether he is happy to proceed with Kris Ajer, Jozo Simunovic and Jack Hendry. Hendry was rumoured to be going out on loan, whilst Simunovic is notoriously injury prone, leaving Ajer as the only steady option we’ve seen of late.
Nir Bitton has recently returned to the midfield after a long-term layoff, but he himself has taken a step back under Brendan to play at centre half many a time. Is that the solution though?
Well, we’ll have to see. You certainly can’t imagine Marvin Compper is going to suddenly grace us with his presence.
So despite my initial feeling that Maryan Shved would be the only other player to arrive at Celtic in this window, with that not yet being confirmed either, it could get very busy in the next 48 hours. I’m sure Jim White and SSN will be right on top of things.