Celtic v Dundee – what to expect from James McPake’s side

Celtic welcome newly promoted Dundee to Celtic Park this afternoon. The Dens Park club were promoted to the Premiership via the Championship play offs as James McPake’s side won 4-2 on aggregate against Kilmarnock to ensure two out of three Plastic pitches dropped through the Premiership trapdoor following Hamilton Accies relegation. For that reason alone, Dundee is a welcome addition to the league calendar this season.

So, what can Celtic expect from the Premiership new boys this afternoon?

The New Faces 

First up there is a return to Celtic Park for former Hoops striker Cillian Sheridan as one of six new recruits to the Dens Park squad this season. Sheridan has had a nomadic football career since leaving Parkhead and signed this summer from Wisla Plock to be reunited with former manager Gordon Strachan now working as a technical director for Dundee.

Dundee have also secured the permanent registration of the talented forward Paul McMullan from Dundee United following a successful loan deal last season and is joined by some lesser-known recruits. Goalkeeper Ian Lawlor who joined from Doncaster Rovers, midfielder Luke McCowan from Ayr United and defender Ryan Sweeney, who has joined the club from Mansfield Town. Dundee have also added the loan signing of defender Corey Panter from Luton Town.

The Well Kent Faces 

There are also a few well-known faces already in the Dundee squad, with former Celtic player Paul McGowan a regular fixture for Dundee and veteran ex Ibrox player Charlie Adam supplying the creativity and passing accuracy from central midfield. Both McGowan and Adam are perhaps the players Celtic have to ensure don’t influence the game too much, with Adam’s experience at the highest level in the English top flight and with the Scottish national team worth protecting ourselves against. However, it must be said, despite never being the quickest of footballers even in his prime the ex-Liverpool midfielder has slowed down considerably and as such Celtic’s high intensity passing game may frustrate Adam this afternoon and I for one am looking forward to seeing that!

Paul McGowan on the other hand remains a genuine threat, as natural a footballer as anyone in the Dundee squad he is capable of producing something from nothing and is also a fierce competitor, Celtic shouldn’t take McGowan’s obvious threat lightly this afternoon.

Meanwhile strikers Jason Cummings and Ryan Mullen are very much a pair of strikers who know where the goal is. Whoever is chosen to lead the Dundee line today is more than capable of converting if chances fall their way.

Tactics and Form  

So far this season, much like Celtic, Dundee have operated a 4-3-3 formation. They opened the league campaign with a highly entertaining 2-2 draw at Dens Park against St Mirren, as they came from behind twice to grab a point and had it not been for the sending off of 20-year-old Max Anderson they could well have started the campaign off with all three points.

In the end a Joe Shaughnessy own goal and a Jason Cummings equaliser ensured they at least received a share of the spoils. As a side note, Anderson’s sending off was very similar to the foul committed by Andy Halliday on Callum McGregor last weekend, unfortunately it seems the respective referees meted out rather different punishments in their respective games.

Prior to the league opener Dundee had played three group matches in the League Cup, and operated a 4-3-3 in all but one of those matches defeating Brora rangers 4-0, before an uncontested 3-0 award for the tie against Ross County due to Covid call offs from the Dingwall side and subsequently defeating Montrose 2-0. Dundee then changed tactics slightly to play a 4-2-3-1 as Forfar were beaten 5-2.

It would be a surprise to see James McPake deviate from either of those formations this afternoon given the early success his side has had in an undefeated start to the season.

A threat to the Hoops? 

In short no, Dundee should be no threat to Celtic. The Dens Par side do have their players who can create and some who can take chances, in Ryan Mullen and James Cummings particularly, but in midfield Celtic should have enough energy and legs to ensure the ageing Charlie Adam is run off his feet.

There is little genuine pace in the Dundee side and although they have honest pros aplenty there is no comparison in the comparative abilities of the two sides this afternoon. Celtic should win this comfortably if they ensure they impose their own game on Dundee, keep a close eye on Paul McGowan and ensure Charlie Adam is not afforded time and space to use his left foot tellingly.

Celtic have all the incentive they need to win this one following our opponent’s next-door neighbours defeating theRangers at Tannadice yesterday. Celtic should win this comfortably. All the same it will be nice to welcome Dundee back to top flight football. Their grass surface will be a welcome addition to the league.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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