Momentum

Celtic exorcised the horror of their defeat in the League Cup at the hands of Ross County last month by defeating them by the same margin in the Premiership encounter last night. Whilst revenge may have been on their mind, winning another league match almost certainly would have been.

Neil Lennon has now seen his side win two league games back-to-back for the first time since late September/early October when they beat Hibs and St Johnstone. It was also Celtic’s fourth straight victory in all competitions.

They haven’t had a decent run since the eight game winning run between the home defeats to Ferencvaros and our city rivals. It’s actually quite staggering when you think about it, but also goes to show why as fans we have been in disbelief at our fortunes and disgruntled with the players and coaching staff.

In the 28 games Celtic have played this season, a total of seven have been defeats – that’s a quarter of our matches. Five of those have been in Europe, one in the Premiership and one in the League Cup.

It reflects badly on us, especially in Europe, but we know that we have not been at the races. And yet we have still only lost one league match.

Ironically, it is the four draws in the Premiership that have affected us more than that single defeat. Dropping eight points out of a possible 12 is far worse than losing three points out of a possible three.

Celtic have been affected all around the park this season – not just in defence. This recent spate of form has brought some smiles back to faces, especially the players.

It’s encouraging and timely because as we come to the end of 2020 we will shortly come up against Steven Gerrard’s side in the first game of 2021. We’ve scoffed at his team for long enough, but this season they are in very good form.

Their only defeat so far has been at the hands of St Mirren in the League Cup. It’s fair to say we weren’t expecting that, but also shows that they are not unbeatable.

Like last season, they’ve done well in Europe too. With any luck, that will serve as a distraction when those last 32 matches come around for them in February.

Celtic’s only task right now though is to focus on the next game. Hamilton away is on Boxing Day and there needs to be a continuation of scoring goals without conceding for Neil Lennon’s side as he attempt to get the season back on track.

Another victory would make it five straight wins in all competitions. Celtic’s best winning run since early October.

With or without fans, Gerrard’s side will be favourites next month. They are playing at home, undefeated at home this season and the form side in Scotland as well as being undefeated in Europe.

Celtic have a point to prove though. They’ve been misfiring all season, but if they keep this momentum and players keep their discipline this would be a great opportunity to turn things around.

The last two festive ties between both clubs have been won by Gerrard. One at Ibrox and one at Celtic Park.

Many people dismissed how close it was this time last season. A title race was not being entertained in the slightest by our wider support.

And yet, the warning signs were there from last season’s League Cup Final right up until the derby game at Celtic Park. However, we saw two things after that defeat at Celtic Park.

One was Celtic coming out of the blocks on fire after the winter break. The other was a monumental collapse of Gerrard’s side.

There’s no winter break this season and I don’t foresee a collapse by Gerrard’s team either. I don’t think for a second that they are unbeatable though.

They have learned from last seasons woes and it has made them stronger mentally as their results show. Once we all learn to respect that, it will be easier to accept the challenge.

You cannot go on thinking they aren’t any good. This is a results game and they have been getting them.

Only results matter. Celtic must maintain getting their own.

With more players returning from injury and good levels of fitness mixed with fringe players getting their chance and proving their worth, the timing couldn’t be better. So until Saturday, have a Merry Christmas.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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