- The Hoops' Highlands Roadshow
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
The Bhoys celebrate Tom Rogic's strike v Motherwell at the weekend
Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Victoria Park, Dingwall
Ange Postecoglou's Bhoys make the long trip to the northern-most point of their domestic campaign, to face Ross County in Dingwall.
The Hoops will be looking to add to their five consecutive victories in all competitions with another success against the Staggies, and to maintain that run of form going into the League Cup Final, this weekend.
But it makes no sense to look to Sunday, when there is a vital league match to contend with, and claim the three points at stake - every one of which could prove vital in the quest to reclaim the league title.
The main talking point ahead of the game is the question of who will line up in attack for the Hoops, considering the number of attacking players that are currently sidelined.
David Turnbull took up that role at the weekend against Motherwell, and while the there were no shortage of chances carved out, the only goal of that game came from Tom Rogic.
Wherever the goals come from, if recent history is any judge, they may need to score a few. Since August, Dundee United are the only visitors to Dingwall who have scored less than 2 goals and come away with anything at all from their visit.
Indeed, the only teams to have actually won against the Staggies on their own patch during this run have required at least three goals to do so, as the hosts have found the net reasonably regularly - it's just the small matter of keeping their goal in tact which has proven more challenging for Malky MacKay's men.
And as it happens, Ross County have run into some good form in recent times. In fact, outside of the Glasgow clubs, they've fared better than any other team in the top flight in the past six league games, picking up three wins and two draws.
Indeed, tonight's hosts have actually scored 12 goals compared to Celtic's 11 in that time - although the Hoops' defence have proven a tougher task for opponants to crack.
Joe Hart's experience & cxomposure has helped establish the best defensive record in the league
A big reason for qhich has been the revitalization and reassuring presence of Joe Hart, the former England Number 1, who has been instrumental in marshalling the youthful defence in front of him and will be looking to add to the three consecutive league clean sheets that the Bhoys have registered.
Speaking ahead of the game, Hart commented that "It’s going to be tough, it’s a big trip for us and we’re light on a few bodies, but I think it was proved in the Betis game that the boys are training, and doing all the really hard work that we appreciate in the background, that people don’t necessarily see.
“And we have full confidence with the guys that are either coming in or coming off the bench and representing us.”
Regarding the pressure of dealing with the fixture pile up, the former England International keeper went on to say "The games have been thick and fast since I arrived. I’ve played 28 games and it’s been two games a week, so it’s been constant, but that’s what you sign up for when you play for this club."
The big queston mark that continues to hang over the make up of the Celtic starting XI, is who will lead the line in attack, with options appearing to be thin at this stage.
The Bhoys will be without an array of attacking players, including Kyogo, Jota, Forrest, Giakoumakis, Ajeti and there is also a doubt over Mikey Johnston also, who also had hobbled off at the weekend in the match against Motherwell.
Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis was reportedly '2-3 weeks' away ahead of the Hearts match, a couple of weeks ago. But most will be also keeping an eye on the developing situation regarding Kyogo, and whether he will be fit for Sunday's League Cup Final.
With nine more games to be played between now and the 'winter break' in January, and with the squad being stretched as it has been so far this season, this is such a crucial period and will surely test the mettle of all.
As for County, they will be without Alex Iacovitti, as the defender is also dealing with a hamstring strain picked up earlier this month.
Kyogo Furuhashi's fitness remains under the spotlight ahead of thw Cup Final
~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~
P: 32 W: 20 D: 6 L: 6
Away v Ross County
P: 15 W: 9 D: 3 L: 3
Last 5 Meetings
W L W L W
Away v ROS
L W W W D
~~~~ 2021/22 Form ~~~~
W W W W W ~ W D D W L
W W W W W ~ W D D W L
CEL Away ~ ROS Home
W L W W W ~ W D W L L