We’ve seen a lot of changes to the Celtic side since Ronny Deila came in almost two years ago. Few of these player combinations have had a consistent run for varying reasons bu does Ronny have or know his best eleven?
Players going out on loan from Celtic, players finishing their loan spell at Celtic, loss of form, injury or simply not good enough! It has had a big impact on progress but that’s all part of the game.
Whether you perceive Sunday’s match as old rivals or as new ones, the match is still being hyped up to the effect of the former. Given the opportunity, who would you choose to start on Sunday though?
Do you throw in your experienced players such as Kris Commons? Or do you stick with your on form Patrick Roberts and don’t let the occasion get to you?
It’s a tough one because whilst you can play down the encounter as two different teams from two different leagues, meeting for only the second time, the sports media are all over this like it’s an O** F*** match. The first time Celtic played The Rangers it was a firm 2-0 win at Hampden in the League Cup Semi Final last year.
On that day the line up was: Gordon, Lustig, Izaguirre, van Dijk, Denayer, Brown, Bitton, Commons, Johansen, Stokes and Griffiths. Later in the match we saw Guidetti on for Griffiths, Forrest on for Stokes and Matthews on for Lustig.
Of the 14 Celtic players who took part that day, 5 have now departed (Stokes is on loan but almost certainly gone in the summer). With the exception of Denayer, van Dijk and Stokes Celtic could put out the same team.
This time, Ronny Deila has further options though. In fact he has almost an entirely new team at his disposal.
Although with Celtic by that stage last season, Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven were both cup tied for that semi final. In addition, players such as Charlie Mulgrew, Tom Rogic and Callum McGregor were not available for selection.
Even Kieran Tierney was but a twinkle in Ronny Deila’s eye at that stage. Whereas Efe Ambrose was left on the bench along with current Celtic loanees, Stefan Šćepović and Liam Henderson.
Since then Deila has added Dedryck Boyata, Erik Sviatchenko, Jozo Šimunović, Saidy Janko, Ryan Christie, Scott Allan, Patrick Roberts, Colin Kazim-Richards and Carlton Cole to the ranks. With injuries and lack of game time ruling out many, there are still significantly more options available this time around.
From those thought to be available my personal pick would be: Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Boyata, Mulgrew, Brown, Bitton, Commons, Armstrong, McGregor and Griffiths. I’d think about bringing on Roberts for Armstrong or McGregor and Rogic for Commons as the game wears on.
If you’re going to play Commons then do so from the start I say. I’m very much in favour of Rogic playing more matches as well, but I think he can pick up a game from any stage unlike Commons who could well be important in this match.
Armstrong would provide some much needed stability in the midfield which is an area we have been weak lately. McGregor would provide a good support to the attack as well and is also a form player.
Roberts would be a great option to bring on to either keep momentum or up the pace entirely. There may also be a place for Kazim-Richards in this tie with his physical presence in mind.
As much as Griffiths has the guile to cause problems, he can be out-muscled if he isn’t on his game. I’m sure this match will be more challenging than last year’s whichever team Ronny decides to put out.
The Ibrox club will be out to prove they can cut it at the ‘top’. Playing the current Scottish Champions and the best team in Scotland is the benchmark for them after all.
Do we have anything to worry about? Well that depends on what you are worried about.
Personally, Celtic should be putting them to rest with relative ease. The Rangers have a point to prove though and if you believe what the Scottish media tell you, this mob will be challenging for the title next season, not just trying to stay up!
We’ve had a continued stream of anti-Celtic stories all week. In contrast I’ve read nothing negative about tomorrow’s underdogs.
Once that whistle blows at 12pm on Sunday, all the negative stories will fade away. Celtic just need to do their talking on the park.
Until tomorrow then.