Celtic go into Saturday’s home game against Kilmarnock with a 9 point lead over our city rivals after they failed to win a must win game at home at Ibrox on Monday even with World beater Michael Beale in the dugout.
Celtic fans will return in their tens of thousands to welcome the bhoys at Paradise and we will be expecting a good performance against Kilmarnock who sit 9th in the SPFL table on 20 points. 35 points behind Celtic and only 4 points ahead of bottom club Ross County.
Kilmarnock’s form has been mixed since the return of football in Scotland after the World Cup. After losing at Tynecastle to Hearts 1-3 they fought back at Motherwell from 2-0 down with 10 men to grab a 2-2 draw.
At home they beat Aberdeen 2-1 and shared the points with St. Mirren after going down to 10 men early in the game.
All eyes will be on Ange’s press conference later today for an update on Greg Taylor to see if he will be fit to face his former team after he limped off at Ibrox on Monday.
No doubt the media will be also be interested in transfer talk about Jozip Juranovic. New bhoy Alister Johnston will be confident of starting his first game at Celtic Park after his debut performance on Monday.
Ange has plenty of options on the wings. Maeda is showing his best form in the hoops after returning from World Cup duty with Japan. Jota and Abada should be hungry for a start after bench warming at Ibrox while Aaron Mooy will also be knocking on the door to return to the starting 11.
The Australian scored 2 goals at Easter Road in the 4-0 win over Hibs and the MOTM had his name sung out loud by the Celtic fans in the cold night air as we left the stadium.
Back in August, Celtic visited Rugby Park and banged 5 goals in with no reply from the home side and Ange and the players should be confident ahead of the home fixture which will also act as dress rehearsal for the League Cup semi final at Hampden when both teams will once again go head to head.
For now however there will be no talk of Hampden as Ange puts a plan in place to go 12 points clear of our city rivals the rangers who travel to Tannadice on Sunday for a 4pm kick off v Dundee United.
That game will be shown on Sky while Celtic fans not attending the game can watch on Celtic TV.
For those travelling from the Emerald Isle buses will be on the road from the early hours to catch ferries from Belfast and Larne while Irish based Celtic fans will also be on the red eyes to Glasgow and Edinburgh. For me it’s a mid morning flight to the capital and bus to Paradise.
9 Points Clear – Happy New Year
Andrew Milne is Editor of More than 90 Minutes Celtic Fanzine & host of the Celtic Soul Podcast.