Dundee United v Celtic, 12.45pm, Sunday 4th November
On Sunday, Celtic will travel to face Dundee United at Tannadice. At the start of the season, United were viewed by many Celtic supporters as the biggest threat to the Hoops’ attempt to retain their Scottish Premier League title. However, despite the pre-season confidence of many fans and pundits alike, Dundee United currently lie tenth in the table, on the same points tally as both St Mirren and newcomers Ross County. In saying that, they do have two matches in hand over these two teams, and with two wins from these ties, they would rise up the league table significantly.
Dundee United have played five league matches at home so far during this campaign, winning two of them, drawing another two and only suffering defeat once (0-3 Hearts). In this time, they have scored seven goals at Tannadice, conceding four. On Wednesday, United were once again defeated by Hearts at Tannadice, as the ten man Jambos won 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the League Cup.
In fact, Dundee United have only won one league match (0-1 victory at St Mirren last week) since the 19th of August when they eased past city rivals Dundee 3-0. However, it is worth remembering that United defeated Celtic 1-0 on their last trip to the city, which is (incredibly) twinned with Dubai, thanks to a goal from Scott Robertson in May last season.
Anyway, with another epic clash with Barcelona on the horizon, it is likely that this fixture, important as it is, will merely be regarded by the vast majority as the Sunday starter before Wednesday’s main course. Now, for those in the stands and watching on television around the world, this isn’t really an issue. However, Neil Lennon and his coaching staff will aim to nullify any similar feelings within the team itself, and focus everyone on the task at hand.
He was hugely successful in this regard recently, as Celtic hammered St Mirren 5-0 in Paisley only days before flying out to Barcelona. Celtic also defeated Motherwell at Fir Park before travelling to Moscow, but did falter against St Johnstone the weekend before the group stage opener against Benfica.
Interestingly, Celtic have played, and will play, away from home in every single league match prior to a Champions League group stage clash. The same applied with both the home and away matches against Helsingborgs.
– 2-1 v HJK Helsinki (h) (first match of the season)
– 0-2 v HJK Helsinki (a) (home to Aberdeen previously)
- 0-2 v Helsingborgs (a) (away to Ross County previously)
- 2-0 v Helsingborgs (h) (away to Inverness previously)
- 0-0 v Benfica (h) (away at St Johnstone previously)
- 2-3 v Spartak Moscow (a) (away at Motherwell previously)
- 2-1 v Barcelona (a) (away at St Mirren previously)
- v Barcelona (h) (away at Dundee United previously)
- v Benfica (a) (away at Aberdeen previously)
- v Spartak Moscow (h) (away at Hearts previously)
This has, undoubtedly, provided a challenge for both Neil Lennon and his team, but to their immense credit, they have performed magnificently on the whole throughout their European campaign this season. Of course, with away games preceding European matches, we often have the pleasure of a home match after them. However, it is certainly an interesting dynamic with regards to keeping the players minds on the task at hand prior to Champions League games and attempting to avoid so called “hangovers” after them.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see which team Lennon sets out on Sunday. Will he play his strongest side to prepare them for the visit of the Catalan giants? Or will he rest several first team regulars to save them for their midweek test?
You can discuss these points, and any others you may have regarding the match here. Don’t forget to submit a prediction for the correct score and the first Celtic goalscorer too, if you want to take part in our free score predictor league (first prize at the end of the season being £100 in vouchers for the Celtic store).