Its almost 48 hours until the League Cup Final, or 10 in a Row Trophies as no-one at Celtic is calling it.
Its been a tremendous 3 years and the last 9 Trophies have been a blast but as always, that was then and this is now.
And now is all that matters.
As per ‘Oh Flower of Scotland’ lyrics..”Those days are passed now” but we can however use them to our advantage.
The experience of those Trophy wins, especially Tom Rogic’s late winner against Aberdeen can stand us in good stead, no matter what comes at us on Sunday from the team in Blue and the Men in Black ( or Yellow or Mauve or whatever colour the Refs wear these days).
This Celtic side know that patience, class and composure will win the day.
We know we can expect the blood guts and snotters from Rangers/Sevco/Them from the outset.
They know they cant outplay us so will try to intimidate us first and foremost.
Expect gnarly faces and ugly tackles from Davis, Jack, Arfield, Tavs, Goldson, and probably even MacGregor knowing him all within the first 5 – 10 minutes. Their crowd will bay for blood and its then that our experience will kick in.
It will be within such bedlam that Scott Brown will simply smile and take the ball, pass to Callum, who will take the ball and pass to Christie, who will take the ball and pass to Ajer, who will take the ball and pass to Jullien, who will take the ball and pass to Hayes, who will take the ball and pass to Forrest who will take the ball and pass to Brown. Ever inching forward, and ever causing more veins in Morelos and Kents temples to throb as they chase shadows.
Sure they will try and duly clatter a few of our players but we will simply laugh and repeat the humiliation.
The Frustration and the fouling will grow, we will simply smile more.
And then we strike!
If Eddy makes it, I expect Goldson and Elmander to absolutely shit the bed. Goldson is a carthorse but a robust one, but the Swede, he is just a dumpling.
In the games I have seen, he is slow, shy and worrisome and if Celtic can run at him, we are guaranteed goals.
The Blue centre pairing will need helped out by their full backs, the ref and Stephen Davis. The Stephen Davis that I have seen play the last few games, is a good yard behind the pace.
If Forrest or Christie face up to him, they will simply run passed him with no contest bar fouls and shirt pulls.
Speed is our saviour on Sunday. Amen
The Celtic side will be interesting and every Celtic fan will be listening out intently come Sunday Morning.
Forster will start, Jullien and Ajer in the centre of defence, Callum and Broony in centre of midfield and James Forrest and Christie will be in forward positions.
The rest is very much up for both debate and ponder.
Greg Taylor is cup tied and Bolingoli is coming back from long term recovery so it looks like Johnny Hayes at left back. The question is, is he fully fit to be facing Media darling “SuperTavs”.
In truth, that wont be such a worry , given Tavs wont actually get forward much as he will be covering either SuperMo or SuperMickey in the Celtic Attack.
On the right of defence, Neil has a dilemma. Does he play the more naturally defensive but limited Bauer, or does he unleash the youthful but inexperienced Whirwind that is Jeremie Frimpong? We would all hope its the young man but putting him up against Kent whilst also asking him to drive up and down that big Hampden pitch is quite a demand on his young shoulders. Whoever plays, look out for James Forrest coming back and covering as always, a role he does so well without much commendation.
Alongside Broony and Calmac, could Lenny spring a surprise and play either Rogic or Ntcham. Now while both are class acts, they both have their downsides.
Rogic has taken time to get back up to speed and lacks that battling punch and N’tcham can impress and frustrate in equal measure. The plus side is that both guys know how to score in this fixture so if any gets the nod, they will have our confidence, with one at least liable to make an appearance over the 90 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, the left wing role will either be Mo or Mickey.
Again, we aren’t clear how fit Elyanoussi will be after a period out, but he is a special player and is in great form this season. Mickey Johnston has really hit the ground running on his return and while lightweight, his speed of thought and tricky feet will really test Tavernier if he gets the nod from Lennon. Again, regardless of who starts, we can be confident. The only questionable areas is a lack of playing together experience with whoever is at left back…chances are Callum Macgregor will have to ensure he is around to help cover that side when needed.
Through the centre is the main dilemma.
If Eddy doesn’t make it, least not for the start then we may struggle a little through the middle given Griffs lack of full match practise and Lewis Morgans centre forward limitations. This is a problem but not a crisis given the number of goals we produce from Christie and Forrest. If Mohammed Elyounoussi makes it, the goal threat increases once more.
We just need to ensure we move on and off the ball when we move the ball itself. The Rangers/Sevco/Them players will not be able to live with our speed of thought or passing ( providing we are on our game) and they know it.
Expect at least 2 penalty claims to be denied for Christie and Forrest and possibly also for MacGregor who aye likes to advance on the blue horde.
No one knows how bad Edouards injury really is.
Is he being protected or is Lenny playing Mindgames or a bit of both?
Time will tell.
If Eddy is gubbed, with Griff not getting more than 20 minutes lately, it could be a massive ask of Lewis Morgan to lead the line in this one. The young guy scored a great goal against Rennes but this looks like a step too far in truth, at least this early in his role as a Celtic striker. Hopefully Eddy can make the bench at the very least and if fit enough for the bench, then hopefully he starts and we get the goals early and can take him off with 30 to go. If he doesn’t make it, that’s a big boost for the Rangers/Sevco/Them but also a big incentive for Griff to maybe prove once and for all he can regain his status as a key Celtic man.
So suggested possible side is
Frimpong Ajer Jullien Hayes
Forrest Eddy Johnston
Subs, well we could have a few returnees as mentioned along with Stalwarts Craig Gordon and Nir Bitton.
Im not gonna go into the Rangers/Sevco/Them side, don’t know them really and honestly don’t care.
I expect Forrest to help nullify Kent, I expect Calmac and Broony to laugh at Ryan Jack and Arfield and I expect Jullien and Ajer to take turns at winding up Morelos.
I expect all of Them to try and boot Christie, maybe even get Kamara to man mark him, but it wont work regardless. The bhoy is just too good.
The only actual thing left to ponder is “What tactics will Neil Lennon play?”.
At Ibrox, with a Ranger side apparently reborn according to the Media, Celtic took the kick -off and Eddy sent the ball out of play 6 yards from the rangers touchline. Everyone thought “WTF?” but it was the start in a Tactical Masterclass from Lenny. Rangers were made to play in their own half and simply collapsed as Celtic harried and attacked them under pressure so close to MacGregors goal.
Lennys curveball that day has really left any Tactic assumptions for Sunday up in the air.
Will Stevie G prepare for the same Celtic threat or does he prepare for a midfield battle as he did before?
Will Stevie G actually sit in and try to play his European Away counter-attack style?
Will Stevie G try a curveball of his own?
Will Lenny view this Celtic side as rather lightweight ( Johnston, Frimpong, Hayes) and go for using the park and ball more and stretch the Rangers/Sevco/Them side rather than a confrontational approach like before?
The Tactics Planning is something we can all watch develop on Sunday.
Regardless, we trust that Lenny, John and Damien will identify the correct game-plan but for now no-one at this point actually knows.
What we do know though is this:
Celtic have been there, seen it, done it.
Celtic have better players and have bigger occasion players.
Celtic have a winning Management Team.
Once again, as per the last 3 years and the last 9 Trophies, the only side that can beat Celtic, is Celtic.
We turn up, we win.
That’s all we need to remember.
Celtic 2: 0 Rangers/Sevco/Them
Man of the Match : Ryan Christie.
PS: Latest reports are Eddy, Mo and Boli all passed fitness tests…..more Mindgames or Much to be glad about….come Sunday we shall see!