- Hoops' Home Cup Comforts
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
Cameron Carter-Vickers & Adam Montgomery celebrate during the last game at Celtic Park
Thursday, 23 September 2021
Thursday's League Cup Quarter-Final encounter with Raith Rovers is more than just an opportunity to progress to the Final Four - and for good reason.
On a wider front, this match represents the opportunity to try and arrest a worrying run of form. And while this has only seemingly been a cause for concern while the Hoops have been on their travels, make no mistake any opportunity to pick up a win will be gratefully latched onto.
This will be the first such meeting between these sides in exactly 6 years (23 Sept 2015) - and just the fourth in total since the Fife side were relegated from the old Premier Division in 1997 - during which time the Hoops have won each of these various Cup encounters.
2015: Stefan Johansen scores in a 2-0 win the last time the sides met
And while the Bhoys will of course go into the game as firm favourites, nothing can be taken for granted, considering the Kirkcaldy side knocked out Aberdeen in the previous round to set up this clash.
Coming into this match the 2 sides could not have a more contrasting run of form, with Celtic winning just one and losing four of their past five games, while this run is inverted, with their last five games yeilding four wins and a single loss - albeit at a very different level.
Famously, the Fife side got the better of Celtic in the 1995 League Cup Final, when they claimed the honours from virtue of extra time and spot kicks, but apart from that the Hoops have not lost a match between these sides in almost 60 years!
1997: Jorge Cadete gets on the scoresheet in a 2-0 victory
After a rough few weeks in matches on the road, hopefully a return to Celtic Park will have the Bhoys ready to perform and a continuation of the bright home form, that has seen them score 15 goals in the league without conceding, in addition to defeating Hearts 3-2 in the previous round of this competition.
And there will be an expectation for the Bhoys to carry on with more of this, while work is being undertaken to correct some of the defensive deficiencies and the away form that has to be a concern for the manager, the players and the support.
But one thing at a time. One game at a time, and if the Hoops can get past the visitors from Fife, they will be in line for a trip to Hampden Park and be within 180 minutes of reclaiming the League Cup, having won the prize in five of the past seven seasons.
Postecoglou may be looking at this fixture as an opportunity to give some of the first team regulars a bit of a break. Which may be the chance for some of the fring players to stake a claim, including summer signings Liam Scales and Giorgos Giakoumakis - although it is more likely it will be from the bench.
Hopes that Giakoumakis is close to being ready to make an impact
Albian Ajeti will also be looking to pick back up on the scoring run he had been on after the disappointment at the weekend, and with the return of Mikey Johnston to fitness will also see him in contention for a starting spot, following his appearance off the bench against Livingston, and Postecoglou has also confirmed that Boli Bolingoli will also be included in the matchday squad for tomorrow, although did not go so far as to state whether he would be starting or on the bench.
However, Callum McGregor will once again be missing from the teamsheet, while James Forrest and Christopher Jullien are not expected to return to full training until after October's international break.
Ange Postecoglou spoke about the current run of results, specifically regarding the performances and results away from Parkhead.
"Our away results haven't been great but I wouldn't say our away form hasn't been great," said the manager, before continuing. "Our form actually has been pretty good. The weekend was probably the exception to that. We didn't play to our tempo, our intensity. Sunday's game was probably the most disappointed they've been in our performance.
"My general feeling is that our supporters are totally understanding of the situation we're in and have been very supportive. I haven't sensed a shift in that. I haven't felt that the supporters are thinking this is going to be a quick fix at any stage."
Head to Head
P:88 W:57 L:14 D:17
At Celtic Park
P:46 W:34 L:5 D:7
Last 5 Overall Meetings: WWWWD
Last 5 Lg Cup Meetings: WWWWL
Last Time Out
2 - 0
23 September 2015