Celtic v Ross County - Match Preview
The Hoops face the Highland side, in the final home game of 2016
Tonight, Celtic go into the second last match of December, a month which has seen them play 9 games so far whilst remaining undefeated, only failing to win against English side Manchester City. Every domestic game this month has resulted in a win.
It started with a difficult but resilient win over Motherwell, with a late goal from Tom Rogic at Fir Park. The Hoops then proceeded to score a further 12 goals in the following 6 matches, bringing their total tally to 16 goals in December, with 2 games still to play.
Although he wouldn't admit it, Brendan Rodgers will have one eye on the Hogmanay derby match vs The Rangers, in 3 days time. Such a congested fixture list has forced the Celtic manager to utilise squad rotation and it has given some fringe players the chance to impress. Most notably, was a start at left back for Calvin Miller, who got a Parkhead outing in the home win over Partick Thistle. The young winger, not playing in his natural position, impressed before being substituted in the second half.
This will be the third of four fixtures in 11 days for Celtic, so expect changes in the starting line up, with perhaps a couple of mainstays being rested for the derby match at Ibrox.
With that in mind, Leigh Griffiths will be fit to start tonight, after he was subbed off at half time against Hamilton. He had scored Celtic's opening goal just before half time, but was taken off as a precaution. Whichever striker does not start tonight, between Griffiths and Dembele, could hint at who will be starting in the derby match. Celtic have more than enough quality to win both matches, as they are streets ahead of every other team in the country, but fatigue could play it's part, along with complacency.
Midfielder, Callum McGregor is suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the Hamilton match, due to some awful and clearly biased refereeing from Willie Collum. Kieran Tierney is still out injured and Tom Rogic has not been declared fit.
Ross County, on the other hand, are missing defender Van Der Weg through suspension. The Staggies are also missing Chris Burke and Michael Gardyne through illness and injury.
When Celtic played at Dingwall earlier in the season, both the Hoops faithful and the manager remarked that it was one of their hardest domestic fixtures this season. County have some talented players and whichever Celtic XI starts, they'll have to be alert to avoid dropping any vital points in the march to the league title.
Celtic are sitting pretty at the top of the table, while County find themselves in 6th, 32 points behind the champions. Still undefeated in the league, Celtic have won all 8 home matches thus far. Another win tonight would see a perfect end to home games in 2016, with just one match to play at the end of the year.
Celtic's Craig Gordon had this to say before the match: