Celtic got back to winning ways in the league after beating Patrick Thistle 2-1 last week in the Glasgow derby. It was more comfortable than the shoreline suggests. Aberdeen then replied with a 2-2 victory over Kilmarnock to cut the gap to just one point again. Celtic with the game in hand of course.
Celtic have got the early game again this weekend and another chance to put the pressure back on Aberdeen, who play away to virus stricken Motherwell in the 3pm matches.
With the news during the week that Celtic have reduced the ticket price for the Kilmarnock game by £6 to £20, fans are well on their way to selling out Rugby Park to give the team their full support in this title race.
Celtic go into the match with one fresh injury concern in GMS, who missed training on Thursday with an ankle problem, but is expected to be fit. Johansen returns from an ankle knock while Boyata returns from suspension. Simunovic remains out with his knee injury longer term.
“We need to score goals. If you take the game at Kilmarnock last time we had a lot of chances and we should have killed the game.
“It’s always tough, at this stage of the season, to meet teams who are down at the bottom fighting against relegation because it’s a cup final every week for them. At the same time, it’s also important for us.
“We want to be very prepared for the game and we won’t give them anything to get confidence about.”
Although Boyata is available again now and he is one of Deila’s favourites, I expect Mulgrew to keep his place instead of him. Mulgrew looked very good against Partick and it was almost as if he settled the defence with his experience. He will partner Sviatchenko. The two full backs as usual will be Tierney and Lustig. I don’t think it’ll be long until we see Janko replace Lustig….
The two holding midfielders will remain Bitton and Brown. Although that could change as Johansen is now available again, but I think he will play further up the park this time.
As mentioned above, one of the front three midfielders will see Johansen return. With GMS picking up a slight knock, I think he could be dropped to the bench and McGregor will continue to start after another impressive display. They will be joined by Commons, who loves to play at Rugby Park. I don’t think Deila will risk playing the youngsters from the start, although I would like to see Roberts in the team from the off.
Up top we will see the main man Griffiths again. There’s just no budging him and the other two strikers in Cole and Kazim-Richards just don’t have a chance, they’ll come off the bench at most.
Since that Kilmarnock win, there have been 11 matches played between the clubs. Celtic have won 9 of them, drawing the other 2.
Since 2006, Celtic have scored 2 or more goals in every match bar one between both clubs at Rugby Park. They’ve only failed in the 1-0 defeat.
Celtic have won 5 of their last 7 matches, drawing the other 2. While Kilmarnock have won just 1, draw 2 and lost 4 of their last 7.
Kilmarnock are the 2nd worst team in the league at home, while Celtic are the 2nd best away team.
The last 43 matches between the clubs in all competitions at Rugby Park have seen Celtic win 30 of them, drawing 9 and losing just 4. The aggregate score being 87-29.
It’s also worth mentioning that in two attempts this season, Celtic haven’t managed to beat Kilmarnock yet.
Back to winning ways with 2 winners last weekend. Tips for Kilmarnock are as follows:
Celtic to win and over 3.5 goals at 6/4. I think we could see a possible high score here with the fans filling the stadium.
Griffiths to score 2 or more at 13/8.