Pre-match with A Celtic State of Mind – Ross County return to Paradise

KEVIN GRAHAM:

It’s been a long two weeks. The days have seemed short but the weeks long. There is something comforting in being the underdog again. It suits me better that we can create siege mentalities and perceived professional injustices.

Lennoxtown would have been a frustrating place for the coaches. Players off on international duty and others doing light work here and there. That’s where our rivals will have the benefit. They have had two weeks to consolidate their message. Our coaching staff will have the mere matter of hours with the full squad before this game. The time will need to be used well.

The bounce-back isn’t just about Saturday, it’s about from now to the next international break. About winning every domestic game, getting to another cup final and keeping our lead in the Europa League. It’s about reaction and mentality of being the underdog. I trust we will be fine.

FansBet prediction:
Celtic to win 2-0 with Ntcham scoring.

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MARTIN DONALDSON:

The result and performance at the Tony Macaroni Arena last time out will hopefully act as a wake-up call for the squad. Two defeats and no goals scored is not the form Neil Lennon will be looking to add to when Ross County make the long road south this weekend.

The Staggies have turned a few disappointing performances at the end of August into a more stable set of results in recent weeks, climbing to fifth in the table.

With Christie suspended after his red card against Livingston, Neil Lennon will make changes in midfield and much will depend on the players returning from international duty, but again Celtic need to impose themselves in the match from the first whistle to avoid any further points failures.

FansBet prediction:
Celtic to win 2-0, with Forrest on the scoresheet.

KEVIN O’ROURKE

Celtic return to domestic action this weekend with a home tie against Ross County on Saturday at 3 pm.

The home side will be keen to get back to winning ways with having dropped points in their last two fixtures – a draw away at Hibs and a surprising defeat away to Livingston the week after.

With Rangers two points ahead at the top of the table and not playing until the following day with a lunchtime kick-off at Tynecastle, this is a chance to put some pressure on the Ibrox side.

Manager Neil Lennon will make changes with the likes of Tom Rogic in contention for a start due to in-form midfielder Ryan Christie being out with suspension for the first of his two-game ban following his red card away to Livingston.

County currently sit fifth In the table having taken 12 points from the first 8 games and have picked up some decent points so far this season.

Celtic can ill afford more slip-ups but I expect them to be back to winning ways this weekend and back on top of the league come Saturday tea-time with a convincing win over a stubborn Ross County side.

ALAN MORRISON:

The rare comfort of a 3 pm Saturday kick-off is the context for Celtic to get back on the SPFL points trail at home to fifth-placed Ross County.

The promoted Staggies have made an excellent start to their top league return with only two defeats in eight matches and 12 points. They are unbeaten in four, including a win over in-form Motherwell. Their only away defeat was at Aberdeen.

On the negative side, they exited the League Cup to lowly Partick Thistle who succumbed 5-0 at Celtic Park.

Stalwarts like Fraser, Gardyne, Vigurs and McKay remain supplemented with canny arrivals in Chalmers, Spittal and Erwin. Henderson won’t play against his parent club. Their breakout star has been forward Ross Stewart with eight goals making a healthy 19 in 45 for the Dingwall club.

In form then, and one of only six clubs to hit 10+ goals in the league. They have taken the fifth most shots (78) but only 27 have hit the target – the same accuracy % as Celtic (35%). But whereas Celtic are converting 16% of shots on target, it is just 13% for the Highlanders.

It could be robust again. Ross County are one of six clubs to break 100 fouls so far.

They have a negative goal difference, by one. Not aided by the fact their opponents have managed a league leading 49% of shots on target. This hints at poor defensive coverage. Only 13% of those have gone in – they may be due to lose a few.

County should be resilient – they have salvaged points from losing positions in two matches so far.

Expect them to finish well – half their goals come in the final third of matches. However, six of 11 conceded have come in the first half. A fast start from the champions may seal it.

FansBet prediction:
If Celtic start well, I’d expect a 3-0 win with on-form Edouard to score.

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