Massively important game on Wednesday night before the derby game on Sunday.
Joe Ledley is almost definitely out but no other recent injury concerns for Celtic.
The options for replacing Ledley are probably:
- Bring Ki in for a straight swap and leave everyone else as is.
- Bring Brown inside and start Forrest, Maloney, Ljungberg or McCourt on the right (or left and switch Commons).
- Bring Ki in and bring Brown inside to add stability and bring in one of the wingers above with Stokes likely dropping out.
I’d go for the first option. I wouldn’t want to rely on Ki to take every game by the scruff of the neck but he is capable of stepping up and asserting himself on games and he’ll never have a more important opportunity to prove himself. He showed how good he can be in the first cup game against the huns when he played really well in the second half in an outnumbered Celtic midfield. Having Kayal alongside him ensures there is a physical presence there but it’s not so much his defensive work that is tame, it’s just a lack of pace and drive to get on the ball, make challenges and spray it around like he can.
They’ll have Eremenko in midfield so Ledley would have been ideal to keep an eye on him but I don’t think Brown shifting inside would offer much more discipline defensively and the 5 in midfield is too negative for me against Killie.
Other big decision is at the back where Majstorovic will surely get some time to get minutes in before the derby game but not sure he’ll start. Rogne will probably get the nod ahead of Loovens.
Despite the huns game on Sunday and the game last weekend I don’t expect us to be considering any surrender by opting for a weakened team. Missing Ledley damages enough, I wouldn’t be volunteering to ask anyone else to sit it out.
Ledley on twitter:
Still waiting on results on hammy. Won’t find out till tomorrow I think.
It’s nice to agree with Rocko after a spell where I’ve been questioning whether he’s lost it when it comes to analysing football. Despite my severe misgivings about Ki’s terrible display against St Mirren last Saturday week, I would also be inclined to give him the nod to replace Ledley in a like for like change.
I think that’s the best course of action to take because the only other real central midfield option is Brown and I don’t want to move him inside in a 4-4-2 for a couple of reasons:
- he’s playing the best football of his Celtic career from that position narrow on the right hand side - he has the energy to come in and help yet still get back out wide when needs be;
- Brown reverting to the centre would effectively mean replacing him with a winger and such a conventional 4-4-2 with 2 wide players didn’t serve us well earlier in the season - it’s a bit predictable and it leaves us outnumbered in the middle against teams that invariably have 3 in there.
We could go with one up front, as mentioned, but I think Stokes and Hooper linked up well yesterday and their partnership has been the best of the front combinations this season overall. Ki will need to shake himself up a bit though and keep the ball zipping around rather than dwelling casually on it like against St Mirren. I would look to start Majstorovic ahead of Sunday too. Another option would be to play Brown and Kayal in the middle in a 4-4-1-1 with someone like Maloney or McCourt playing in the hole and dropping back to supplement the midfield when necessary.
We have a lot of squad options in fairness - only 16 players are allowed in the match squad for cup games and the likes of Samaras, Juarez, Ljungberg, Murphy and McGinn didn’t make it yesterday. I think Maloney has looked sharp in his cameos off the bench and wouldn’t be surprised if he begins to feature more centrally over the run in.
Ledley has been confirmed out for tomorrow night and Sunday.
Clip of training this morning - it amused me greatly:
Huns are gone one up tonight with another Whittaker penalty. Dundee United down to 10 men too.
Fuck’s sake. Another red card and another penalty for Whittaker. They won’t be dropping points tonight.
Thought they might slip up tonight
Fuck it anyway
Penalty/Red Card x2 is beyond the usual. They’ve accumulated 9 points since we last played in the league and that puts the pressure firmly on Celtic.
Jelavic has made it 3-0 but strangely nobody in tangerine was sent off in the run up to the goal
A third penalty and a third sending off now. Fucking hell. The ref is trying to wipe out Celtic’s goal difference advantage in one fell swoop. Whittaker has just missed this one. Imagine scoring a hat-trick of penalties in one game. Fuck sake. I wonder if Collum is looking at these incidents in the usual manner or relying on the eyes in the back of his head.
Lafferty added a fourth and glad it ended at that as it was putting a serious dent in our goal difference. Down to 4 now but if we did end up on the same points as them it would mean us winning a game more so it’s probably around 6 goals.
Really looking forward to our game tomorrow now. But I can’t help fearing refereeing matters are going to materially impact the run in.
Jos Hooiveld on twitter tonight: “Why is there always (pen) behind every rangers goal?”
Forrest in for Ledley with Brown moving inside. Not what I’d have done. Forrest can be dangerous though but Commons may need to play a bit narrower on the leftnbecause of Ledley’s absence and to avoid the two wingers problem.
Big Dan in for Rogne also
This is fucking huge. C’mon to fuck Celtic!
Ah great stuff, was just gonna post how Commons is definitely playing more centrally than he had been in recent games. And that’s a great advantage to have in coming inside finding space like that.
fuck you rangers, we’re gonna win the league