PAUL JOHN DYKES:
With a League Cup already in the cabinet; the ninth league title in succession clearly on the horizon; and four trebles in-a-row a distinct possibility, Captain Scott Brown has described his Celtic team as “not perfect” in the lead-up to tonight’s encounter at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
If this is imperfection, then I’m sure that every man, woman and child of a Celtic state of mind will learn to live with the foibles of Broony and co.
Livingston inflicted Neil Lennon with his first of only two domestic defeats this season when the clubs last met in West Lothian. Ryan Christie’s sending-off certainly contributed to what was undoubtedly a shock reverse that afternoon, but the 25-year-old has since been one of Celtic’s brightest stars ever since. Christie’s performance tonight will be a key factor in edging Lennon’s men closer to the magical nine.
Nir Bitton is deserving of another start following a solid display in Perth, and Mo Elyounoussi makes a welcome return to the starting line-up at the expense of Leigh Griffiths.
Griff worked hard against St Johnstone, but his departure for Rogic changed the game and Lennon has left the striker out against his former side. The gaffer has managed the recovery of Griffiths sensibly and effectively and he knows better than anyone that he’s a great option if Celtic are struggling to pick the Livingston lock.
Expect a tough encounter against a physical Livingston side, but I predict that Celtic will avenge The Lions by two clear goals with Ajer of Jullien on the scoresheet.Listen to the latest episode of the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind with ACE CITY RACERS
There should be no pressure on us tonight. We have deserved and desired breathing space. That’s not to say that we don’t want to win. The urge and will is there and is always there. That’s why we have breathing space.
This game is a different challenge. All games are different challenges. At the weekend, we were recovering in tough conditions in a cup tie. Tonight, we are looking for three points in just as tough conditions against a side that know what they do and know that they do it well.
There will be no tactical surprises. No second guessing what our opponents are going to do – what they are going to try. We are looking to score at this venue for the first time in three attempts. Sort that out and you would like to think that we would be ok. Failure to win will see the narrative only winning one out of three being the talk of the steamie.
Win? Then we have won two hard away games since disappointment and have proved we are extremely good at getting over a defeat.Watch Kevin McKenna with A Celtic State of Mind