As supporters we refer to it so often that it’s almost become a cliché to talk of when Celtic last tasted domestic defeat.
The game in question of course was against this weekend’s opponents St Mirren, who inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Ange Postecoglou’s side way back on the 18th of September, 2022.
Had Celtic not then embarked on a blistering 24 game unbeaten run in the 166 days that followed then it’s a game we might barely reference at all.
But as they say, clichés are clichés for a reason and the reason for this particular one has been the remarkable and unrelenting form shown by Ange’s men in that time.
And it’s form they’re showing no sign of giving up on any time soon having claimed the first silverware of the season in Sunday’s League Cup Final.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
What’s become abundantly clear under Ange Postecoglou is that Celtic prepare in the same way and with the same focus regardless of the opposition.
Real Madrid, Raith Rovers, or Rangers (you can pick your favourite of those three sides!).
Each opponent is given the same level of respect and same level of attention in the days leading up to kick off.
And it’s for that very reason we know that any suggestion of sub-plots regarding “revenge” this Sunday won’t be entering the thoughts of the Australian, or his players.
“It wouldn’t matter who the next game was.
They (the players) came back in on Tuesday ready to go and training this week’s been super competitive because the one thing that a game like last weekend leaves you with is they all want to be a part of it.
They don’t want to miss out next time and they don’t want to miss out on being part of something that could give them some special times.
So, irrespective of who we’re playing this weekend I had no doubt the lads would come back motivated, and they have, and our training’s been top notch and very competitive and the boys will be ready for Sunday.”
That motivation to be part of what could yet go on to become a very special season is clearly high amongst the players at Lennoxtown.
Such is the competitive nature of the playing pool just now that figures such as modern day legend James Forrest and £3.75M Argentine full back Alexandro Bernabei failed to even make the bench for Sunday’s Cup Final.
Our Glasgow rivals can only dream of having such depth.
Ange’s legendary “we never stop” mantra has become synonymous with this Celtic side and with how they approach their football.
However it’s apparent that the “one game at a time” mentality is equally important to the ongoing progress of the team.
Roll back any one of Celtic’s pre match press conferences since Ange’s – whether it’s the manager himself speaking, or one of his players – and you’ll be hard pushed to find anyone looking any further than the very next game.
Some teams talk about having this mindset in football, but Celtic are living it.
MOOY OF THE ROVERS
With only two losses at home all season, St Mirren are the only team in Scotland who’ve found a way past a Celtic side which have been otherwise untouchable across the campaign so far.
Stevie Robinson and his players deserve great credit for where they find themselves in the table and with eleven games remaining must now have designs on a top 6 place at the very least.
A feat the Paisley side have yet to achieve since the concept was introduced to Scottish Football in the 2000/01 season.
Ange raised a few eyebrows ahead of the game at the SMiSA Stadium in September, making six changes to the side who had drawn with Shakhtar Donetsk in a Champions League tie a few days prior.
Most notably our centre half pairing on the day was Moritz Jenz and Stephen Welsh.
Jenz has since left the club after the early termination of his loan spell, and Welsh now hasn’t played competitively for Celtic since early October.
Aaron Mooy also made what at the time was a rare start in the midfield, and with every respect to a player who’s now become a firm fans’ favourite, he wasn’t yet fully up to speed with the rest of his team-mates.
As he showed once again in Sunday’s League Cup however, Mooy now finds himself one of the most important and in-form players in Celtic’s squad.
What we’ll see this time around is a very different Aaron Mooy, as well as a very different Celtic.
READY FOR THE CHALLENGE
Every game presents it’s own unique challenge and Sunday will be no different.
For Celtic and Ange however, this one isn’t about settling scores or exacting revenge.
It’s about picking up another three points. Nothing more, nothing less.
“They’ve had a really strong season. You can see that with their position in the table. They’ve got really strong home form which has given them the edge over other sides.
They’re pretty consistent in the way they play and the way they set up and because of that their players are really comfortable.
Like every other game for us it still comes down to the way we deal with the challenge before us, and come Sunday we’ll be ready for that.”
They’ve been ready now it seems, for 24 games!
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