Almost two years ago to the day – 17th December 2017 – Celtic’s incredible 69 game domestic unbeaten run came to an end when the Hoops suffered a most unlikely defeat.
Celtic travelled to Tynecastle to play Hearts. That has always been a tough game for the team. They would have expected to have to work hard for the three points as they always have to do.
Hoops folded spectacularly
However, few would have expected Brendan Rodgers’ side to lose in spectacular fashion, 4-0 to a Hearts team which fully merited their victory. The team’s tactics were all over the place in the defeat.
Now, two years on, Celtic are set to return to Tynecastle in what is a vital league game in the Scottish Premiership.
Just like then, Celtic are on a great run, having won their last eight league games in a row. Some players who featured that fateful day at Tynecastle – Scott Brown, James Forrest, Callum McGregor, Olivier Ntcham and Odsonne Edouard – may feature at Tynecastle on Wednesday night.
Big difference is curent man in the dug out
However, the biggest difference between then and now is the man in the dugout. Neil Lennon would not allow his side to fold the way Brendan Rodgers’ did at Tynecastle that afternoon. That doesn’t seem to be in his make-up as a Celtic manager.
Another difference between then and now is that the Hoops are in the middle of a proper title race. Two years ago the defeat left Celtic two points ahead of Aberdeen with a game in hand. Being honest though, few people expected them to challenge until the end of the season, and they didn’t. Celtic won the league by nine points.
Celtic are currently two points ahead of bitter rivals Rangers, and have a chance to go five points ahead by the time they play Hibs on Friday. That should provide the team with enough incentive to ensure that they go to Tynecastle focused on getting the three points.
Hearts also seem in better form in 2017 than they do now, where they are in a relegation battle. That doesn’t mean that Celtic will be taking the three points for granted, but they should be even bigger favourites than they were in 2017.
Sure, there is a chance Celtic could drop points if they game reduced to 10 men, for example. However, there is little chance of them repeating the errors that blighted their game that day two years ago