I hope all those in the Scottish media who doubted this Celtic team will be there today

Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas earlier this week backed Celtic to effectively win the title this afternoon and in the process get revenge on Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s team after they knocked a disjointed Celtic side out of the Scottish Cup at the semi final stage the last time the two teams met.

Celtic lost a late goal in extra time in a game that look destined to end in a nail biting penalty shoot out. Celtic could have won the match during regulation time after Greg Taylor put Ange Postecoglou’s men 1-0 up but in all honesty, were far from their best during one of their poorest performances of the season.

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This had led to many Scottish football ‘pundits’ diving off the deep end to suggest that Celtic were struggling and perhaps evening ‘bottling’ it. Many saw, and let’s be honest, hoped, the upcoming fixture against Ross County could be a potential banana skin which could open the title race back up but Celtic passed the test with flying colours, putting the naysayers back in their box.

Charlie Nicholas however can only see one outcome as we head towards the 12 Noon kick-off today, where a packed Celtic Park will cheer on our team to effectively win the title against our most bitter rivals. He senses that the mood among the Celtic minded is that we let theRangers borrow our trophy for one season and now we are taking it back home. He’s right.

In his column in Scottish Daily Express earlier this week Nicholas had this to say: “The Premiership trophy will be coming home to Celtic Park after this weekend. The mood seems to be that we have let theRangers borrow our trophy for one year but now we’re taking it back.

“Sunday’s Old Firm (sic) match is a must-win for (the)Rangers but I still think the title is over because Celtic’s games in the run-in are all winnable. I know Ange Postecoglou’s side were defeated by their bitter rivals at Hampden but I don’t see them losing this one at home.

“Ange was hurting more than the players after the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat, but the league meeting is not about revenge for that loss”.

Going on to discuss his thoughts on how he feels Ange Postecoglou will approach the game, the former Scotland International thinks that the Australian manager will once again send his team out with the intention of blowing the opposition away, as he has done all season.

IMAGO / PA Images Callum McGregor at Dingwall last Sunday, Photo Robert Perry

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He feels the only changes we might see is in midfield, were he states that Tom Rogic and Reo Hatate might miss out. He doesn’t say who he sees replacing them but one can only imagine it would be Matt O’Riley coming in for Rogic and David Turnbull coming in for Hatate? Both would be more than capable of coming in and making an impression but personally I don’t see it. I think Ange Postecoglou will stick to his guns and give the pair the chance to redeem themselves after under par performances against the same opposition last time out.

Nicholas continued: “I don’t see Ange changing too much on Sunday in terms of his approach. He will send his team out to get at (the)Rangers and to try and blow them away. That is what he does. The only thing that might alter is his team.

“Ange will be tinkering. (the)Rangers upset his players’ rhythm at Hampden. Tom Rogic or Reo Hatate might not start. I do think the manager will change his midfield and for that reason they will win it.

“The big home crowd will help them over the line and going into the last 20 minutes or so Celtic will prove too strong. It is remarkable what (the)Rangers have done in recent weeks but I think the fatigue will start to kick in. They don’t have a lot of attacking options and they will need to sit deep and play on the counter-attack.”

I think there are a few more decisions to be made regarding the starting line up that Nicholas doesn’t mention. The main one I think is who will start up front. Celtic went with Daizen Maeda last time out in the Scottish cup but I think he will move out to the flank this time. With Kyogo shaking off his ring rust against Ross County with the first goal and Giorgos Giakoumakis making a welcome return from the bench, playing his part in the second goal, it will be a straight shoot out between the pair who starts in attack.

Either way you just get the feeling that whoever starts today, the Celtic players will be champing at the bit to show they are much better than their Scottish Cup semi final performance showed. With a full Celtic Park behind them and the opportunity to effectively win the league title against their bitter rivals I can only see one outcome.

I hope all those in the Scottish media who doubted this Celtic team will be there to witness it.

Conall McGinty

About Author

Hailing from Cushendall in the North of Ireland my formative years were spent watching Celtic during our barren spell through the 90's which meant I have appreciated our recent trophy-laden spell even more. Favourite matches home and away I've attended has to be beating Man Utd 1-0 at Celtic Park and being with my 2 brothers watching us beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome. Best away day experience? Has to be Munich with friends from Coatbridge...what a few days!

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