Less than two weeks ago, Celtic thrashed St Johnstone 5-0 at Celtic Park in the League Cup quarter-finals. Now, fresh from their stunning 2-1 win over Barcelona in midweek, they welcome the Saints back to Glasgow’s East End on league duty hoping for a similar outcome.
Steve Lomas’ side will, however, be buoyed by their 2-1 victory over the champions at McDiarmid Park earlier in the season and memories of their 1-0 win at Celtic Park in August last year.
But following six straight wins in all competitions during September and October, the Perth side have now gone three without a victory, losing their last two, and go into the match with their form on a downward spiral.
Much may depend, though, on which Celtic side shows up.
The last time they played a Champions League game in midweek (their 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Nou Camp) they lost their next SPL match 2-0 at home to Kilmarnock. The adrenalin will still be pumping through their veins following Wednesday’s famous win, but they will have to focus all their attention on league business again if they are to avoid a repeat scenario this time around.
And their need is heightened by a chasing pack who are breathing down their necks in the Scottish Premier League table.
Aberdeen’s 4-1 win at St Mirren on Saturday moved them level on points with Neil Lennon’s Champions League heroes, while Hibs are also level on points ahead of their Sunday showdown with Dundee United and Inverness CT’s draw against Hearts leaves them just two points off the pace.
A win for St Johnstone on Sunday would also pull them level on points at the top as the pressure builds domestically on the Hoops to start winning more regularly.
The home side are clear favourites to win, however, priced at 11/50 with bwin to take all three points. St Johnstone are out at 9/1, while the draw is on offer at 9/2.
Perhaps the best way to win money in this one, however, is backing a draw at half-time and Celtic at full-time.
This allows for the champions to ease themselves back into domestic action after midweek, while also assuming that the players who were too good for Barcelona will ultimately have enough in their armoury to overpower the Perth Saints by the final whistle.
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