- Celts' Sights Set on Staggies
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
Jota's stunning strike made it 2-0 against Aberdeen last weekend
Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall
Saturday, 6 August 2022
Celtic head north into the Highlands for their first road trip of the League season when they take on Ross County tomorrow.
The Hoops will be keen to build on the opening day success against Aberdeen and to keep that momentum going, as they look to get off to a much stronger start to this campaign than last year.
To that end, targeting all 3 points will be what matters most this weekend, but no doubt the travelling support will be looking and hoping for an energetic and emphatic performance as the Bhoys continue to get back into the groove of competitive football once again.
It's a rare treat that the Bhoys are having right now, with a full week to prepare for matches at this time of the year. All too often the Hoops have been having to doggedly fight through a series of European Qualifiers, but this season, with Champions League Group Stage football already assured, it has afforded the manager plenty of time to fully focus, tune up and prepare the team before each match.
And considering this is the first of two encounters between these sides this month - the Hoops are set to repeat this journey north again when they kick off the defence of their League Cup crown from last season - no doubt Ange will be making the most of this time.
Giorgos Giakoumakis scored a hatrick when these sides met in March
That said, Ross County were one of the surprise success stories of last season, where they were able to accomplish an astonishing turnaround of form, which saw them go from rock botton in early November to securing a top half finish at the split and narrowly missing out on Europea.
The Staggies will be looking to bounce back after their opening day 2-1 loss to Hearts, and recapture the kind of form that saw them win all of their League Cup Group Stage matches, including a rampaging 7-0 victory over East Fife.
The Hoops come into tomorrow's match having won all 4 encounters between these sides last season, and overall, while Celtic have dominated this fixture, there are also numerous occasions and memories of previous clashes where the Staggies have proven all too difficult opponant to simply dismiss or underestimate for the Hoops.
Indeed, this dates back to the very first meeting between the clubs, when the Highlanders knocked out Celtic in the 2010 Scottish Cup Semi-Final, and have all too often continued to be proven a thorn ever since.
Prior to Postecoglou's arrival, the hosts were able to trip up the Celts twice in season 2020/21, first knocking Celtic out of the League Cup in November 2020, ending a period of undisputed domestic silverware dominance, before hammering home the final nail in Neil Lennon's second stint as Celtic manager in February 2021.
No doubt Postecoglou will ensure that the Bhoys are fully prepared and ready. so there ahould be absolutely no room for complacency this weekend, when they take to the Dingwall pitch on Saturday afternoon.
Ralston's late winner was the difference when Celtic visited Dingwall in December 2021
By the Numbers
- The Hoops have been undefeated in the past 33 games in the League, dating back to September 2021
- The Bhoys won all 4 meetings between these sides last season, scoring 11 in total and conceded just once.
- Celtic won all 4 of the games they played last season when Don Robertson was the Ref.
Ange Postecoglou celebrates during Celtic's win over Aberdeen last week
The Bhoys will be without Yosuke Ideguchi, with the Japanese midfielder expected to remain out for a couple of weeks still, while the prognosis is much better for defender Carl Starfelt, who has resumed full training with the squad, but having missed the entire of pre-season it would be a potentially needlessly brave decision to include the Swede for this weekend's match as he returns from a hamstring injury picked up while on International duty.
There is also some concern over Reo Hatate, with the midfielder being on the receiving end of a couple of hqrd knocks which resulted in him being replaced earlier than anticipated in last week's season opener against the Dons, and is due to be assessed today (Friday) before any final decision is made about his availability.
As for the Staggies, Malky Mackay has close to a full strength squad at his disposal, with the exception of William Akio, who remains sidelined with knee troubles.
~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~
P: 35 W: 24 D: 6 L: 5
Last 5 Meetings
W W W W L
Away v RCY
W W L W W