Celtic begin the defence of their SPL championship this Sunday where they entertain Motherwell at Celtic park. In their first competitive match without Parkhead legend Henrik Larsson, the Bhoys will be looking to return to winning ways by taking all three points in this SPL opener.
After a mixed pre-season, which was completed with a 2-1 win over Newcastle, Celtic will surely be the favourites despite losing influential Swede Larsson. The Hoops also recorded victories over Fulham and Manchester United as well as losing against Roma, Liverpool and Chelsea. The steelmen come into the encounter fresh off the back of a 3-0 win against Scottish division three outfit Stenhousemuir.
The match gives new signing Henri Camara a chance to impress in front of the Celtic faithful after completing his loan move from Wolves believed to be worth around £1.5 million-the most expensive loan deal ever in British football. The quick striker from Senegal has promised big things after he refused to play again for relegated Premiership side Wolves.
The match will give Martin O’Neill a first chance to see the team in competitive action again and perhaps a chance to see whether some youngsters can make it at the top level. After a promising Pre-season from many of Celtics youngsters, players including Aiden McGeady, Ross Wallace and Craig Beattie will be hopeful of pushing their way into Martins plans for the new season.
Celtic have only one major doubt ahead of the match, this being left midfielder Alan Thompson, after a clash with Chris Eagles during Celtics pre-season tour of America Thompson looks set to miss the Motherwell match. Long-term absentees Shaun Maloney and John Kennedy will also miss the match.
Player to watch
The young Motherwell forward showed much promise last season by netting 15 goals in 45 appearances. The hard working Scot possesses good technical ability and an eye for goal. Certainly one for the future aswell as the present, i'm hoping Balde and Varga will keep him under wraps as he does enjoy penetrating right through the centre backs when running. He has pace which could also trouble our centre backs.
Its no holds barred for this one, I think Martin will start with his strongest team and keep the 4-4-2 formation which was used in pre-season. Also expect Camara to make an appearance as a substitute.
GK – Marshall
DR – Agathe
DC – Balde
DC – Varga
DL – McNamara
MR – Petrov
MC – Lennon
MC – Pearson
ML – Thompson
CF – Sutton
CF – Hartson
I’d be lying if I said I expect it to be a close encounter, I just think that our team is too strong for Motherwell. Despite having some decent individuals which include Hammell and Clarkson, Balde and Varga will have to keep their concentration if we are to get off to a winning start and I’m expecting Sutton to back a few. Pearo and Lennon in the centre of the park seems like a good option with Lennon hanging back and doing the grit which is needed, I’m expecting Pearson to do Petrov’s usual job whilst in centre midfield and get forward and support the front 2.
I’d like to see the young boys as well as Camara given a run out before the end and lets all hope for a Hoops win. Also like to give the Dons a shout out who are entertaining the Huns this Saturday. :icon_mrgr
Selected match Odds (Celtic win)
William Hill – 1/10
SkyBet – 1/7
Totesport – 1/8
Celtic – Motherwell-Head to Head
Celtic Wins: 130
Motherwell Wins: 43
Last 5 meetings (Celtic Park)
14/03/04 – Celtic 1-1 Motherwell
20/09/03 – Celtic 3-0 Motherwell
01/12/02 – Celtic 3-1 Motherwell
02/01/02 – Celtic 2-0 Motherwell
21/02/01 – Celtic 1-0 Motherwell
BTG’s Prediction: Celtic 3-0 Motherwell