Celtic Park may turn out to be as quiet as a morgue this weekend against St.Johnstone in the aftermath of their exit from the Champions League in midweek at the hands of Malmo.
Attendances haven’t been great at Celtic in recent seasons and adding the disappointment, as well as anger from the fans over the abysmal midweek performance, there could be more green seats on show than green and white clad supporters.
St.Johnstone will be looking to pile more misery on Celtic and their fans, and with the Perth side having beaten Celtic back in March thanks to a solitary goal scored by Danny Swanson – they will hold no fear going to Glasgow to face what is a despondent and hurting Celtic.
From Celtic’s point of view, the fans will be hoping that the team can bounce back straight away and get back to winning ways. If Celtic play to their best then they could ultimately blow St.Johnstone away but will their players be up for the game? They certainly weren’t in midweek.
St.Johnstone may have won only one of their first five league games of the season – that being last week’s 2-1 win over Motherwell – but they have drawn against both Inverness Caley Thistle and Ross County, as well as two close fought defeats to Hearts [4-3] and Dundee [2-1].
Celtic on the other hand have won four out of their five league games this season and have a 100% winning record at home in all competitions this season. I can see Ronny Deila’s side coming out the traps fast once again and try to secure all three points before the half time mark – with St.Johnstone being stubborn in defence while countering when they have an opportunity to do so.
Full back Mikael Lustig is still struggling after his injury picked up against Malmo in the first leg of the Champions League qualifier two weeks ago, so Saidy Janko should keep his place at right back after being one of the few Celtic players to have been given pass marks in midweek.
There are fitness concerns over both James Forrest and Virgil van Dijk – with a decision being made on the former late on. Van Dijk is expected to be fit to face St.Johnstone despite not training on Friday and striker Nadir Ciftci will miss out through suspension with this game being the former Dundee United’s striker final game of a six game ban imposed after being found guilty of biting Dundee rival Jim McAllister in the final day of last season’s derby game.
St.Johnstone are without Steven Anderson again with the player sitting out through an eye socket injury and new signing Darnell Fisher is ineligible to play against his parent club under the terms of his loan deal from Celtic.
Celtic XI: Gordon; Janko, Boyata, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Rogic, Mackay-Steven; Griffiths
Subs: Bailly, Ambrose, Mulgrew, Allan, McGregor, Forrest, Stokes.
St.Johnstone XI: Mannus, Mackay, Scobbie, Millar, Davidson, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Shaughnessy, Cummins, Easton, O’Halloran.
It all depends what Celtic turn up. If it is the Celtic from midweek then St.Johnstone could cause an upset, but if its the Celtic that beat Inverness Caley Thistle 4-2 two weeks ago then I can see Celtic running out easy winners.
I’m going for a Celtic win 3-0.