Brian Rice is expecting a tough challenge from a “more direct” Celtic when his Hamilton Accies side host the Hoops on Saturday.

Neil Lennon’s men go into the lunchtime fixture with maximum points from their first four league games. They’ve netted 17 goals against St. Johnstone, Motherwell, Hearts and Rangers and will fancy their chances of reaching the 20 mark against Accies.

Rice has commented on the Hoops’ new plan under Lennon, which he feels helps them to move the ball around the pitch quicker than under Brendan Rodgers.

(Photo by Jose Miguel Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“We have to try and cause Celtic problems when we can,” he told the Scottish Sun. “They’re a wee bit more direct and by that I don’t mean long balls.

“They get it forward quicker, whether that’s passing it quicker or getting it side to side quicker and there’s more crosses coming in.

“It’s a massive task for us. People were saying Rangers were getting closer to them and then you see what happened in the Old Firm match — Celtic rose to the challenge again.”

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Rice is right – Celtic are far more direct

It would be very interesting to compare Celtic’s approach this season to last. When Lennon was appointed in late May many made disparaging comments about how we would be nowhere near as good to watch under his command.

The reality so far this season has been very different. Last season saw us score three goals on the opening day against Livingston and then only four in the six following matches.

This season we matched those seven goals on ‘Trophy Day’ alone but have since gone from stride to stride. The current tally of 17 is the best in the league by a country mile, with Rangers’ total of nine well behind in second place.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

And that’s only the Premiership. In other competitions we’ve netted 24 goals in nine matches, taking our overall tally to 41. To put that in context, we only hit our 41st goal of last season in the Betfred Cup semi-final against Hearts at Murrayfield. That game came in late October.

Lennon is making even his biggest critics eat their words. Hopefully it can continue this weekend.

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