The Scottish Premiership resumes tomorrow night (Wednesday) with runaway League leaders Celtic hosting fifth placed St. Johnstone at Celtic Park. The Hoops dominated League proceedings pre-winter break and little has happened so far during the January transfer window to suggest that things will change in the second period of the season.
The Hoops have managed to fend off any interest in their prized assets despite the rumoured interest in the likes of Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney from the English Premiership and Europe. Only fringe players Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie have been shipped out on loan to Kilmarnock and Aberdeen respectively in order to gain much needed first team football.
Passing them in the opposite direction has been Ivory Coast midfielder Kouassi Eboue, signed from Krasnodar for a fee in the region of £2.8miillion. Eboue is somewhat of an unknown quantity to most observers of Scottish football and we will have to wait and see exactly what he will bring to the Celtic midfield. However, by all accounts he is a creative and energetic midfield playmaker and, with any luck, the missing piece in the midfield jigsaw.
Other than Eboue’s arrival and the departures of Ajer and Christie on loan, January has so far proven to be a quiet month transfer wise from a Celtic perspective; but then again, when you are so far ahead at the top of the table and leading so many statistical league tables, it is difficult to find an area of the team in need of improvement.
If things have been quiet on the transfer front at Celtic Park then they have been non-existent over at McDiarmid Park with no new faces arriving or old ones leaving thus far during the transfer window. Tommy Wright has built up a strong squad over the last couple of seasons and, with money tight, the Perth Saints have so far decided against strengthening their squad and will no doubt be waiting for the right player to become available before rushing into any signings.
Currently fifth in the table, St. Johnstone are enjoying another steady season under Wright’s guidance and should probably be well equipped for a top six finish come the split. They may not always be the most entertaining team to watch but with Wright favouring a well organised defensive approach to most game they are one of those difficult to beat sides.
Interestingly, St. Johnstone have a better away record than at home so far this season, winning four and drawing four from 10 away games compared to three wins and three draws from 10 home fixtures. Therefore, despite Celtic’s obvious abundance in talent and firepower and their hugely impressive unbeaten run, a victory tomorrow night is not guaranteed.
However, despite all Tommy Wright’s defensive organisation, the Saints are currently conceding an average of 12 shots on goal per away game this season, something that Celtic’s deadly front men will look to capitalise upon.
With the prospect of equalling the Lisbon Lions 50 year old record of going 26 domestic matches unbeaten in sight I cannot see past Celtic for this one. Mind you, given the way they played before the winter shutdown I can’t see anyone stopping them domestically at the moment.