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Celts Eye Success Against Saints

Discussion in 'TalkCeltic News' started by Taz, Mar 14, 2024.

By Taz on Mar 14, 2024 at 2:43 PM
  1. Taz Blind Justice Gold Member News Writer

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    Celts Eye Success Against Saints
    ~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~

    [​IMG]
    Matt O'Riley's strike against St Johnsstone back in December is a goal of the season contender
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, 16 March 2024
    15.00 GMT

    The Hoops return to Premiership action this weekend, when they welcome the visit of 9th placed St Johnstone to Parkhead, ahead of the International break.

    Last week, the Bhoys set aside a dogged Livingston 4-2 to set up a Scottish Cup Semi-Final showdown with Aberdeen next month.

    That result, however, will have done little to ease concerns over the missed opportunity to return to the top of the table prior to that, following another chastizing trip to Edinburgh for Brendan Rodgers, which ended in 2-0 defeat at Tynecastle.

    With just 4 games remaining ahead of the split, Celtic cannot afford to allow any further slip ups, as the race for the title intensifies.

    That pressure will not be eased while serious question remain, concerning the struggles to post consistent results, in addition to the apparent inability to record clean sheets.

    Only once this season has Celtic recorded at least 3 straight wins across all competitions - when they won 6 on the spin from mid-December through January - but the deeply worrying and inconsistent trend has resurfaced since then.

    Meanwhile, just a single clean sheet in the past 8 games overall - and zero in the past 6 in the league - tells it's own perplexing and frustrating story. While this is not on Joe Hart alone, it also cannot be simply dismissed as a simple statistical anomoly either.

    The Bhoys will to be fully committed and determined for Saturday, knowing it will move them to the top of the table - at least for 24hrs - and that there is very little room for error left in this title race.

    [​IMG]
    Daizen Maeda netted a hatrick in last weekend's 4-2 Scottish Cup win over Livingston

    This will be the third meeting between these teams this season, the first resulting in an underwhelming 0-0 draw back in August, followed by another lacklustre first half performance at McDiarmid Park at the start of December, as the Hoops had to fight back from a 1-0 halftime deficit, to overcome the Tayside club, 3-1.

    St Johnstone began the season as a lot of pundit's pick to face the drop this summer, putting at risk their Premiership status which they have maintained since 2010 - the club's longest ever continious stay in the top flight.

    It seemed like that prognosis was well on the way of becoming a reality, with the Perthside outfit having taken just 4 points from their first 9 games of the season - including one of those coming at Parkhead - when they parted company with former manager Steven MacLean.

    But credit where credit is due, they have worked their way up with steadily progress, and have improved significantly since manager Craig Levein's appointment, back in November.

    The former Scotland boss inherited the Saints languishing in dead last with little prospect or evidence of imminent improvement, yet his experience has helped guide them, not just clear of the drop zone, but have put a little bit of daylight between them and the dogfight for survival.

    While it was the Saints' home form that needed the most immediate focus and correction, it cannot be ignored how Levein has also taken steps to improve their fortunes on the road also, with their first 2 'Away' wins of the season coming in the past month, with victories in Dingwall and Pittodrie.

    It is far too soon to say that the Saints are clear and free of any sort of relegation worry, especially with roughly a quarter of the season to be played out and every point precious at both ends of the table, but they are trending steadily away from danger and no doubt would be feeling more confident in their prospects at the moment, compared to the three sides currently below them.

    Given where they were after the start that Saints had, Levein and his players deserve respect for this turnaround, and will be wanting to once again prove how determined they can be against the Celts on Saturday, just as they have been in the previous meetings this season.

    [​IMG]
    August: Liam Scales has played every minute since breaking into the side against St Johnstone

    By the Numbers

    • The Hoops are undefeated by St Johnstone overall since May 2016, and are undefeated at Parkhead since April 2015 (W14 D4).
    • Celtic have kept just 1 clean sheet in their past 8 games.
    • Since 2016/17, the Bhoys have scored at least 4 goals in a single game against St Johnstone at least once per season, but are yet to do so this campaign.
    • The visitors have scored just 6 goals in the league away from Perth this season.
    [​IMG]
    Nicholas Kuhn turned in his most impressive performance as a Celtic last weekend

    Team News

    The crocked trio of Reo Hatate, Callum McGregor and Luis Palma all will remain sidelined until after the International break, while Yang Hyun-jun will be once again be unavailable through suspension.

    There was some concern after Nicholas Kuhn hobbled off during the Scottish Cup win over Livingston last week, however it is hoped that the winger will be available, while it remains to be seen if Cameron Carter-Vickers will be considered.

    As for the visitors, Diallang Jaiyesimi and Drew Wright are ruled out for this game, however both are expected back before the split, while a question mark remains over Liam Gordon's availability, after the defender was forced off early in the bruising 1-1 draw against Livingston, a fortnight ago.​

    Referee: Euan Anderson

    This will be the Dumbarton native's second time in charge of a game involving Celtic this season, following the Bhoys' 1-0 win over Ross County, back in January.

    Celtic's Overall Record
    M:15 W:13 D:1 L:1

    VAR: Chris Graham

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] ~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~ [​IMG]

    Overall
    P: 225 W: 135 D: 54 L: 36

    Last 5 Meetings
    W D W W W

    [​IMG] ~~~~ 2022/23 Form ~~~~ [​IMG]

    Overall
    W L W W D ~ D W L L L

    SPFL
    L W W D W ~ D W L L L
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2024