- Celts Take Aim at Staggies
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
The Bhoys celebrate David Turnbull's equalizer in the 2-1 win against St Mirren
Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall
Saturday, 4 November 2023
All eyes will be on the Hoops this Saturday as they travel north into the Highlands in an effort to go 8 points clear at the top of the Premiership, when they take on Ross County this Saturday lunchtime.
Due to the League Cup Semi-Finals this weekend, the door is opened for Brendan Rodgers' side to steal a march on their Glasgow rivals and to make that opportunity count by putting that additional distance between them with another win in the league.
While Celtic sit top and remain undefeated, it's fair to say there remain questions, after the disappointing 0-0 performance against Hibs at Easter Road, followed by having to fight back at home from 1-0 down to defeat St Mirren, 2-1, in midweek.
Rodgers has struggled to get a level of good consistent performances this season so far, but the Celtic faithful will be hoping that the manager can find the right formula to get a result on Saturday - not least of which as it is the last chance to fine tune ahead of the trip to Spain, next week.
Celtic have won the last 9 meetings with the Highlanders since the disasterous 2020/21 season, when the Staggies knocked the Bhoys out of the League Cup, 2-1 in November 2020 in Glasgow, while the 1-0 defeat in February 2021 was the final straw before Neil Lennon departed less than 48hrs later.
Oh, here we go! Oh Hyeon-gyu's first league goal of the season sealed a 2-1 win v St Mirren
This season the Dingwall side are coming into this game on the back of a tricky little run. In fact, County have not played at home in over a month and not won in their last 7 games straight.
That worrying trend however, has shown signs of shifting in the past few weeks, with the Stags recording 3 consecutive draws - all of which have been while on the road.
The catalyst for this could be that Malky Mackay has set his side out with a back 4 instead of the more defensive minded back 3, affording Victor Loturi to play a more prominant role in the midfield engine room. As such, the Canadian International has sparked County to being more productive going forward for the likes of Simon Murray, who already has 10 goals this term, to capitalize on.
More immediately, just this past week Mackay's side have both managed to seize a draw from the jaws of victory and a draw from the claws of defeat.
Firstly, they threw away a 3-1 lead over Motherwell with less than 10min left on the clock to finish 3-3 last weekend. Then on Tuesday they fought back from 2-0 down at Easter Road to walk away with another credible 2-2 result under the circumstances.
As such, it will be interesting to see which Staggies side shows up. Will the Highlanders revert to the more defensive back 3 for the Hoops visit, or if the Staggies will once again set out with that back 4 in place? It all depends on what Mackay feels could be more useful against Celtic.
David Turnbull - who bagged a brace against County in August - scored again in midweek
By the Numbers
- The Hoops have won all of the last 9 consecutive meetings (8 League & 1 League Cup) against the Staggies.
- Ross County have had 30 yellow cards this season, more than any other team in the Premiership, but have not had a single red.
- The Staggies have scored just 1 1st half goal in the league this season.
August: Kyogo scores against Ross County in the 4-2 win on the opening day of the season
The Hoops will once again be without Reo Hatate (hamstring), Stephen Welsh (ankle) and Liel Abada (thigh). Maik Nawrocki is back in the frame after being listed on the bench in midweek, while Cameron Carter-Vickers could also come into contention, as rotation and player availability is key with the Champions League trip to Madrid next week also in mind.
As for the Staggies, Josh Reid's status remains a doubt due to a recent foot injury, while Ben Paton (knee) and Ross Callachan (knee) continue to be sidelined, but are both nearing a return.
Liam Scales (Celtic) & James Brown (County) are both 1 booking away from an automatic suspension.
Referee: David Munro
Munro has officiated 56 games since making his Premiership debut in 2019. As it happens, of the 6 times Munro has been in charge of a game involving Celtic, twice has been against County, with each side having won once.
Incidently, that one win being the only league win Celtic have had when Munro held the whistle.
M:6 W:2 D:3 L:1
VAR: Andrew Dallas
~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~
P: 40 W: 29 D: 6 L: 5
Last 5 Meetings
W W W W W
~~~~ 2022/23 Form ~~~~
W D D W W ~ D D D L L
W D W W W ~ D D D L L