St Mirren vs Celtic: Jim Goodwin on Neil Lennon's unpredictability

By David Walton

December 24, 2019

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin believes he won’t be fooled by Neil Lennon’s unpredictable team selections on Boxing Day.

Celtic head to Paisley looking to win their 11th league game in-a-row. St Mirren, meanwhile, are looking to claw themselves away from relegation trouble before the end of 2019.

The last meeting between the pair ended in a 2-0 success at Parkhead a couple of months ago. In the run-up to that one, Celtic had crucial games against Hibernian in the Betfred Cup and Lazio in the Europa League to think about. Yet, despite that, Lenny still played one of his strongest teams possible against the Buddies.

Neil Lennon hasn’t messed about with his team selections this season (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Goodwin appears to have learned from that match not to expect any favours this time around, even if Rangers are on the horizon for us this Sunday. Speaking in the Daily Record, the Buddies boss isn’t taking anything for granted:

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“When we went to Parkhead they had some big games coming up and I thought they would make a few changes. But Neil only made two changes to his team. When people think he will rest one or two he surprises you by going with his strongest team to maintain that momentum they have.

“He has the luxury of bringing international players into his team. I am not going to try and second guess what Celtic are going to do.

“No matter who he plays they are going to put out a good team.”

A strong team, if not our best, is a certainty on Thursday

In the game Goodwin is referring to back in October, only Moritz Bauer and Greg Taylor came into the team. Lennon still featured the likes of Scott Brown, James Forrest, Ryan Christie, and Odsonne Edouard respectively.

The likes of Odsonne Edouard should start on Thursday (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

But Goodwin is also spot on to say that, no matter how many changes Lenny makes, the team will remain strong. Just look at the bench Celtic had out at the weekend against Aberdeen. It contained the likes of Mikey Johnston, Leigh Griffiths, and Tom Rogic respectively.

Although, even though we have such strong back-up, it’s Neil’s strongest XI that should take to the field on Boxing Day. Yes, there is the argument that certain players shouldn’t be risked, but that’s not the attitude to have.

At the end of the day, three points is three points. We get just as many for beating St Mirren as we would if we beat Rangers. The last thing we need ahead of the Parkhead crunch on Sunday is to be heading into it having dropped some points, especially if it’s due to complacency.

Will Lenny make it 11 consecutive league wins on Thursday? (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Even in Celtic’s easier-looking games against bottom-six opposition, we’ve still fielded close to our strongest line-up. It’s that respect for the opposition that’s making sure we don’t slip-up regularly. There’s no need for Lennon to sway from that approach on Boxing Day.

Goodwin is accurate to make this point about our team. Preparing for us at our strongest is absolutely the way to go for the Buddies. Lennon doesn’t like losing, and his selections this season prove that.