Celtic are back in action this Saturday at home to Livingston in the Scottish Premiership. And Neil Lennon will be hoping for a better result than the one he got at Almondvale in early October against Gary Holt’s side.
We are now entering the final phase of the year before the Scottish Football winter shut down begins. Ahead of Celtic is a fixture list that consists of 11 matches in the space of 37 days.
That’s two games a week in less than six weeks, including two European matches and a cup final. Six of the matches are at home with four away and one on neutral ground.
It’s a gruelling schedule, but symptomatic of a club that are always at the top. We have the squad to contend with this and we want to be involved in all competitions every season.
Livingston currently sit in 7th place in the league and eighteen points behind Celtic. Though that didn’t prevent the Lothian side from being the only Scottish club to beat Celtic so far this season when they won 2-0.
It was a blip for Celtic, but the perfect opportunity for Livingston following the dismissal of Ryan Christie 26 minutes into the first half of that encounter. Now Celtic will be looking to make make amends and ensure that they stay top of the Scottish Premiership by taking all three points at Celtic Park tomorrow.
Steven Gerrard’s side are also in the hunt for a win as they sit on the same points as Celtic. Goal difference is the only thing that separates us from them in the league at the moment.
If both Glasgow clubs continue their domestic form, the gap may not open up until both sides come together at Celtic Park in the final match of the year. There is also the small matter of the League Cup Final to contest before that.
Steven Gerrard has reached his first final as a manager and it is his club’s second top flight final in their short history. For Neil Lennon, it is yet another Hampden Final.
However, Neil has never won the League Cup as a manager. Despite having won the trophy twice as a player, he has managed a losing Celtic side in two of these finals to Rangers and Kilmarnock.
So for both men, winning this trophy would be a first in their managerial careers. It will also determine which club, if any, has the sole chance of winning a treble this season.
Celtic have dominated all domestic trophies for the last three seasons and most people out there want to see that come to and end. There’s no doubt that Gerrard has made a difference at Ibrox, but Celtic are still ahead of them on all fronts.
This will be a good contest though. It’s a huge match and even though it is still over two weeks away, I can’t help but think about it.
It’s all part of a heavy schedule. Not just for Lennon, but for Gerrard too.
Having said that, Gerrard has one less midweek game to contend with than Lennon. That appears to have come down to the pre-scheduled Sunday and Friday fixtures his club have, leaving too little time for a rescheduled midweek game like Celtic now have to deal with.
As I said earlier though, Celtic have the squad to handle it. There is also a chance to take a lead in the league through this, albeit having played one more game than their nearest rivals.
Having begun the year with flat and bitter, we have the chance to end it on a positive. Neil Lennon, along with his back room staff, have galvanised this squad, along with new additions, into a far stronger unit.
They have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League with two games remaining, a chance to win their group and also take home the first domestic silverware of the season only weeks from now. When the winter break comes it will be welcome and with so many huge games ahead of the club their is a lot of incentive.
It all begins on tomorrow at Paradise with Livingston then Stade Rennais (H) next Thursday followed by Ross County (A), Hamilton (H), Rangers (N), Cluj (A), Hibs (H), Hearts (A), Aberdeen (H), St Mirren (A) and once again Rangers (H). Let’s make them all count Bhoys!