COMMENT By Danny Wright
Celtic will welcome St. Johnstone to Parkhead on Saturday in a bid to keep alive their hopes of finishing the domestic campaign unbeaten.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have won all three meetings with the Saints this season, scoring ten goals in the process while the visitors will be attempting to spoil the Celtic party and pursue their dreams of Europa League qualification.
Here, Football Insider takes a look at three things we can expect from the Hoops on Saturday:
Stuart Armstrong to step up
The 25-year-old will have to put in a big performance in Celtic’s midfield due to the absence of Scott Brown. The captain will begin his two-match suspension against St. Johnstone so Armstrong will have to put in a big shift in order to keep the midfield ticking over. Eboue Kouassi and Nir Bitton are the two players likely to take Brown’s place, but neither of them will do anywhere near what the 30-year-old has been doing this season. Armstrong’s earned a lot of plaudits for his form over the course of the campaign and, although the league is practically over for the Bhoys, the former Dundee United man must step up and work at 110 per cent to keep the unbeaten run going.
Rodgers to experiment
There are five games remaining of Celtic’s season and Rodgers will probably start to make plans for next season. The Bhoys behemoth has destroyed all before them in Scotland this season but the long-term goal has to be making a mark on the Champions League. There’s a number of young players that can be handed experience of senior football in the coming weeks ahead of the Hoops’ season-ending fixture with Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final. Rodgers will want to experiment with his team selection and tactics, but not so much that it damages their chances of a win – finding a balance of experience and youth will be critical.
Quiet day for Craig Gordon
Celtic are by far and away the best team in Scotland and experienced ‘keeper Craig Gordon can be expected to have a very quiet game. The 34-year-old has played in 31 of 34 Premiership games this season, keeping 18 clean sheets and only conceding 18 goals. St. Johnstone are not one of the league’s most threatening teams going forward either, scoring exactly half the amount of goals Rodgers’s side have managed this term. Danny Swanson is the Saints’ top goal scorer with just nine goals, closely followed by striker Steven MacLean who has a measly eight. Tommy Wright’s attack won’t be anything to threaten Celtic’s resistant back line and goalkeeper.
In other Celtic news, the expected line-up for the Saints clash sees two changes.