Motherwell host Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership tomorrow afternoon, hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s loss away to Hearts.
It will be a tough fixture for the Steelmen though, with tomorrow’s opponents unbeaten domestically and newly crowned league cup winners.
This weekend is the third meeting between the two sides this term, following 5-0 and 2-0 losses both at Parkhead.
The Fir Parkers will still be without the recovering Carl McHugh and Joe Chalmers, but are otherwise full strength. While Celtic will miss Scott Sinclair and Kieran Tierney as the Glasgow outfit arrive in Lanarkshire.
Despite missing two of their biggest talents, Celtic still boast fantastic strength in depth and Motherwell assistant manager James McFadden is aware of their threat, but is confident ahead of tomorrow’s big clash.
When asked what the mind-set has to be like when facing a side in Celtic’s sort of form, McFadden called for “positivity”.
He said: “We have to be positive. We go in to every game believing we’re going to win the game, we set up to win the game and it will be the same again on Saturday.
We go in to every game believing we’re going to win the game, we set up to win the game and it will be the same again on Saturday.
“We’re under no illusions, they’re the best team in the league but they’re beatable and the mind-set for us is we’ll go out there on Saturday to win the game.”
This Saturday is the third meeting between the sides this term, following two defeats at Parkhead, but McFadden believes playing at home offers Motherwell a chance to return to winning ways.
He said: “If you look at the league cup game, obviously it was a resounding defeat for us, but the league game wasn’t and we caused them enough problems in that game.
“I think we’ve shown that we’ve dealt with them probably a bit better than most teams in the league and that’s the confidence we take in this weekend.
“We’ve got them at home and it’s a chance for us to go and put on a show for our fans and show everybody else that they are beatable.”
We also need to watch for mistakes because in the end the game at Parkhead cost us because we made two mistakes and we were punished for them.
He added: “You can’t afford to waste chances in any game but especially against Celtic, we know we need to be at our best.
“We also need to watch for mistakes because in the end the game at Parkhead cost us because we made two mistakes and we were punished for them. If we limit our mistakes and take our chances I think we’ll be all right.”
‘Keeper Craig Samson feels the home advantage could give Motherwell a boost ahead of this Saturday’s league clash.
And he added that the standard of opposition doesn’t concern him as a goalkeeper, he just wants to perform as best as he can every single week.
Samson said: “It’s a game that we’ve got to go into and focus on the match and have a system that the manager has put in place that we’ll work on today and tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get something out of the game.
“As a goalkeeper you’ve got to go in to the game and hope that you can perform the way that you can every week – it doesn’t make a difference if it’s Celtic, Kilmarnock or Dundee.”
Last time the two sides met, the Steelmen lost narrowly 2-0 at Parkhead, and Samson admitted the team stuck to what they had prepared but were unlucky.
He said: “I think we had a game plan that day that the boys put in to place very well and we were unfortunate at times not to get something out the game, but that was a while ago, so we’ve just got to look in to this one now.
[pullquote]We’ve got to go into and focus on the match and have a system that the manager has put in place that we’ll work on today and tomorrow and hopefully we’ll get something out of the game.[/pullquote]
“It’s at home this time. We’ve played Celtic twice this season and they’ve both been at Parkhead so we’ve got to take our home form in to the game on Saturday and hopefully get something out of the game here.”
At Fir Park it’s a lot different, we’ve got our fans there wanting us to win, there’s not as much noise from the Celtic fans and it does make a difference.
He added: “It’s a different task for them and a different task for us to play them at our home stadium.
“It’s not about the atmosphere being more daunting, it’s just that you want to play in front of your own fans and when you play away to Celtic there’s 60,000 fans who want you to get beat, whereas here at Fir Park it’s a lot different, we’ve got our fans there wanting us to win, there’s not as much noise from the Celtic fans and it does make a difference.”
He continued: “Everybody would rather play at home rather than away – it’s your own surroundings, you know everything about the club, they don’t know that when they’re walking in the door, some of them wont have played here before, so that’s something hopefully we can use to our advantage on Saturday.”
Celtic come in to tomorrow’s match as newly crowned League Cup champions, undefeated in the Ladbrokes Premiership and in the middle of domestic ten game winning streak.
Scoring freely under new manager Brendan Rodgers, the Parkhead outfit look every bit like the league favourites they are tipped to be, registering some impressive results – including a 6-1 victory over Kilmarnock as well as 5-1 and 4-1 wins over Rangers and Aberdeen respectively.
Draws with Borussia Mönchengladbach away from home and Manchester City at Parkhead in the Champions League have been additional highlights for Celtic fans this season so far.
However a 2-0 defeat at home to Barcelona last week eliminated the Hoops from Europe after a brace from Lionel Messi sealed Group C for the Catalans.
But perhaps the most important game of the week for the Glasgow side was their clash with Aberdeen in the League Cup final last weekend.
And they made no mistake as they stormed to a 3-0 victory over the Northerners – securing manager Brendan Rodgers first piece of silverware in Scotland at the first possible opportunity.
When skipper Scott Brown lifted the cup, it was a historic moment as it was the clubs 100th trophy.
It was a comfortable afternoon for the Hoops as Rogic launched a precise strike in to the far corner before Forrest almost recreated the finish before the half time break.
In the second half, Dembele made no mistake from the penalty spot as Celtic kept their clean sheet and extended their domestic winning streak to ten matches.
The French centre forward has slotted in to Rodgers team with ease so far and is the Northern Irishman’s main source of goals. Dembele has bagged 17 in 27 appearances this season, including a hattrick in the Old Firm victory and a brace against Manchester City.
The sheer impact of the summer signing is even more impressive given he is just 20 years of age.
One of the biggest strengths Celtic possess is the depth of their squad, with last seasons top scorer Leigh Griffiths limited to 434 minutes of action in the league so far, compared to Dembele’s 864.
Then there are players like James Forrest, Scott Sinclair, Tom Rogic, Patrick Roberts, Stuart Armstrong, Gary Mackay-Steven, Ryan Christie and Kris Commons all competing for the three positions in behind the striker.
‘Well boss Mark McGhee will be more than familiar with a few of Celtic’s key players tomorrow afternoon, not only from past meetings between the two sides but also due to his close relationship with the Scottish Internationals in Rodgers ranks.
Scott Brown, Craig Gordon, Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest have all had recent call-ups to Gordon Strachan’s side and are key components for Celtic.
In recent weeks, Stuart Armstrong has also sparked into form under Rodgers, scoring the winner away to Kilmarnock two weeks ago to extend the clubs winning streak and their lead at the summit of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
But the biggest recruit in the summer was arguably the manager, Brendan Rodgers.
Under the ex-Liverpool boss, the Hoops have gained their fair share of plaudits and the Northern Irishman is exciting Celtic fans across the globe.
However, Saturday’s opponents will come in to the match knowing that the last time they lost a home league game at Parkhead was against the Steelmen last season, when a Louis Moult brace brought the Fir Parkers from behind to beat Ronny Deila’s Celtic 2-1 on their own patch.
And while the Bhoys are a completely different side, playing an attractive, exciting and fast brand of football this season – the Steelmen will be confident in the knowledge that they have what it takes to overcome Celtic.
Rodgers side arrive at Fir Park this afternoon hungry to maintain and extend their unbeaten run in domestic football, but with the Steelmen themselves hungry to bounce back to winning ways following the disappointing loss against Hearts, it makes for an interesting game in Lanarkshire tomorrow.