Keeping with the topic of referees, I think it was imperative that Lennon mentioned Willie Collum in his press conference today, as he will be in the spotlight even more now after last Sunday. Any dodgy decision that is given (Or not) will be scrutinised and the fans will be right on top of the ref come Sunday, and rightly so given recent circumstances.
Now, do tactics mean much in an Old Firm game? The general misconception from outsiders is that it’s a bit of a kicking match, with the occasional goal being scored.
Obviously tactics mean everything in football, but Sunday will be Lennon’s first real test in that area. In the SPL, you more often than not come across average dross that you are expected to beat, and then play class European acts that you are expected to try and hang on to. Now, this will be the first time that Lennon will come across a team whose main goal will be to defend and literally have nine men behind the ball.
There’s no doubt that Rangers will play a system that allows them to soak up as much pressure as possible, and hit on the break with Miller, Naismith and possibly even Weiss all countering with pace. Whatever the formation they play, more likely a 4-5-1 with Naismith and Lafferty/Weiss on the wings, Lennon must get this right or he faces one almighty buzz kill on Sunday.
The game will be won and lost in the middle of the park, so do you risk the inclusion of Davie Ki on Sunday? He had an excellent game at Tannadice but has faced nothing like the frantic pace and physical challenges of an Old Firm game. There is no doubt Lee McCulloch’s sole intention is to set about the Celtic midfield, so you need players who can stand to a challenge and not be a afraid to get stuck in also. Not Barry Robson per se, but a player who doesn’t gasp at the thought of sliding in.
There’s no real evidence is Effrain Juarez is a more physical player than Ki, as he hasn’t featured all too much this season, but whoever Lennon chooses, they must be up to the task.
In terms of the rest of the team, I think it’s pretty simple picks. The defence is what it should be as should attack, and despite how much it pains me to say this; it probably isn’t best to start McCourt.
I love Paddy. Even watching him for just three minutes out of the 90 can often make the admission fee worth it. But in order for Celtic to win on Sunday, a workman-like performance is needed, and every player will have to work their absolutely arses off, and I’m just not sure it’s the ideal situation for Paddy.
However, what is ideal is McCourt coming on with 20 minutes or so left and running at a tired Rangers defence. A tired Rangers defence that had to endure a physically demanding game midweek against Valencia, and who have played a few more games than Celtic already this season. McCourt against Papac or Whittaker when he is fresh and they are the complete opposite is very, very appealing…
Despite the massive build up to this game, it is not a must win game. If we do win, then we’ll have a massive amount of momentum going in to the next few games, and have the psychological boost of being the only unbeaten team in the league.
If it’s not a win for Celtic, then it’s still early days for both teams. It looks like the league will be extremely tight this season, so your games will be vital and must win as many as possible at home. Even goal difference could be important, again.
Whatever the outcome, it’s sure to be a belter of a match on Sunday.