All four of Scotland’s European contenders return to domestic action today. Celtic and Rangers returned from their trips having secured a place in the Europa League play-offs, whilst Aberdeen and Motherwell came home empty handed.
Celtic have a tough test against Hibs today at Celtic Park. The Easter Road outfit had the whole week off, but the home side were pushed to the end of Thursday game, so today and may be feeling it a little.
The best thing for Neil Lennon would be to make some changes. He lost James Forrest to injury so he will play no part today.
That leaves the door open for Jeremie Frimpong who was outstanding in Riga. He made all the difference when he replaced Forrest and was able to unpick the lock on Thursday evening to allow Mohamed Elyounoussi to grab the only goal of the game.
The question is, will Elyounoussi get a start or remain on the bench has he has done for the previous four games? He spoke candidly in the aftermath of Celtic’s Europa League victory.
“Obviously it has been a little bit challenging to be left out. But I see this as a challenge. There’s two options – either you go around being frustrated or you pick yourself up and prove the manager wrong.”
I think he’s been quite honest here in that he knows he’s been left out because he may not have contributed in some games in the way that the manager would like to have seen. In Europe he has provide 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games, but in 6 domestic appearances he has managed just one assist and Lennon will be asking more from him in that role.
The latter statistic is the most likely reason for his absence from starting line-ups. However, if Thursday night has got him going then perhaps he will get the nod today.
Having said that, Neil Lennon is only likely to do so if he thinks he has the right mentality. The manager has chopped and changed a lot this season and as I’ve said many times, we’re not yet into our stride.
Aberdeen who are currently in 4th spot have an away trip to Dingwall today. Ross County entertain them after the Dons 1-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Rangers have an away tie at Motherwell at midday which could be a tough one. Motherwell haven’t had the best start to the season, but they can be a challenging team at times.
A win for Rangers would be a real positive for them as they aim to keep Celtic at bay. There may also be a degree of pressure on Celtic if that is the case and I am sure Hibs will give us a real game today.
Last week Rangers and Hibs drew at Easter Road. So the Edinburgh club will fancy their chances against Celtic too.
Celtic will have to be at their best today. Will there be more changes in the side?
It won’t be the same starting line-up, but I can’t see Neil Lennon not starting with Edouard. Even though his form has been a bit off, he is still our star centre forward.
I can imagine this is the game that he could bounce back. Whilst the media continue to speculate about his future, the manager confirmed there had been no significant interest in the player.
Personally, I’d like to see us go two up front for this game. We’ve seen the benefits of this with the group of players we have.
Christopher Jullien is said to be back in contention after being out injured. I wouldn’t be rushing him back though as I thought the back three that played in Riga were largely untroubled.
In particular, I though Nir Bitton was excellent. He doesn’t always get his game but he stood out for me.
However, you just never know how Neil is going to line-up these days. Take your pick.
Back four or back three? Two up or one up?
We’ll see what happens at Fir Park first around midday. Then we can focus on Celtic Park at 3pm.