Sky Sports pundit James McFadden has touched on the confidence and quality of Celtic in the build-up to the Glasgow derby, but he’s also identified an interesting trend.
Celtic go into this weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth-round clash at Ibrox in promising spirits. The Hoops have shown some good form over the course of the last two games, hammering home nine goals without reply against Falkirk and Livingston respectively.
Granted, the difficulty level will be notched up this weekend. Even so, Celtic fans will be feeling a bit more confident about themselves. They’ve only shipped one goal in their last four games and have started looking more defensively sound.
McFadden, meanwhile, has been previewing the derby with Sky Sports, and he’s identified an interesting trend as he touched on Celtic finally clicking:
“It’s good for Celtic that they can find that form and everything seems to click. The vital thing now is that they take it forward. It can’t just be that it’s one game and they tail off again, which has probably happened a couple of times this season. So it’s important they maintain those levels.
“But the thing is, they’ll be confident going into the game against Rangers because the last couple of games they’ve played, they’ve probably been the better side. But obviously they haven’t managed to win the game which then flips it around to Rangers to say they don’t have to be at their best to beat Celtic.
“It’ll be intriguing to see how it plays out because the confidence is high at Celtic. But it’s also high at Rangers so hopefully for everyone else we get an entertaining game.”
James McFadden highlights Celtic consistency problem
McFadden makes a great point, even if he isn’t everyone’s favourite pundit. He touches on how there have been times this season when everything has clicked yet we haven’t pushed on.
Indeed he’s spot on. Everytime we’ve produced a superb five-star performance this season, it’s been followed by a pretty dismal response.
Celtic kicked off the season with a commanding 5-1 mauling of Hamilton. One week later we produced a dire 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock. When we won 5-0 at Ross County in September? We struggled to secure a 2-1 success in Paisley days later. A 4-1 win at Motherwell in November was followed by a disappointing 2-2 draw at Easter Road.
More recently, we glistened with a 4-0 romp at Kilmarnock under Neil Lennon in February. Four days later we needed a late Diego Laxalt goal-line clearance to stop Motherwell leaving Celtic Park with a point. A dominant 4-0 win at St Mirren was then followed by a late comeback success at McDiarmid Park when we underperformed again.
If it’s not been a slip-up it’s been a major performance dip in the match after we’ve hammered the opposition. We’ve yet to string two equally impressive performances back-to-back this season. Whilst this weekend we know we can’t afford to see our performance levels dip from Saturday’s 6-0 win over Livingston.
In a sense, there’s a bit of a mental barrier for Celtic to overcome there. Whether it’s complacency or arrogance, we’ll never truly know. But the fact is we’ve generally been poor in the next game after a dominant performance. It’s time for that trend to change this weekend.
It’s going to take a warrior-like performance to leave Ibrox with cup progression secured. Let’s see who’s truly up for the battle.