Celtic will be hosting a marauding Manchester City team who will be looking to notch up their 11 successive win on the trot. The two have never played before but have a sense of familiarity on multiple levels. While Celtic will be eager to put up a better show than their humiliation at the hands of Barcelona, City, on the other hand, will be striving towards being a team who are capable of churning out regular wins in the mould of Guardiola’s previous teams.
The football fraternity has already pushed the fixture aside as a City win, but we will take a look at 3 reasons why the fixture will not be as straightforward as people think it will be.
ABSENCE OF KEVIN DE BRUYNE
The Belgian playmaker has been absolutely exquisite this season and his influence has grown on the City team with each passing match. And his hamstring injury could not have come at a worst possible time for City as they embark on a run of difficult fixtures this coming month which will shape the way their season will be progressing. A look at his stats will illustrate the extent to which he will be missed.
He has had more shots (18), more shots on target (8), more assists (4), more chances created (20), more big chances created (5), more successful passes ending in the final third (131), and more crosses (15) than any of his club-mates.
CELTIC’S PACE ON THE COUNTER
For all their flashy build up and sassy attacks, City still look unconvincing at the back. Pep had hoped to sign two centre-backs but had to settle for only Stones as Laporte turned down their advances. They are currently unable to keep clean sheets and the matches against Swansea illustrated their vulnerability to pace and determination. Celtic have learnt a harsh lesson against Barca and Rodgers has promised they will not be sitting back this time around. Celtic boast of players like Sinclair, Roberts and Griffiths who are more than capable of hurting the backline. City have not fallen behind this season and a goal on the counter might just be the lift-up Celtic need to put the Sky Blues in panic mode.
LAW OF AVERAGES
Pep Guardiola mentioned in his presser last week that City probably need a loss to bring back things into perspective. Though it was in jest, many believe City’s run might be too good to be true. The City fans will not be complaining and rightly so. But there is a sneaky feeling the law of averages might catch up with City sooner rather than later. With the difficult fixtures coming up, a few City players will have an eye on the future with the likes of Spurs, United and Barca. That might be enough for them to lose their focus.