Celtic V St Mirren at Celtic Park : Match Preview

01 February 2014 02:31
Celtic V St Mirren - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hoops boss: Pressure off Buddies

Neil Lennon believes St Mirren will have a "free game" when they take on high-flying Celtic at Parkhead on Sunday.

The champions have gone 23 Scottish Premiership matches unbeaten since the start of the season and their 4-0 home win over Kilmarnock on Wednesday night meant they have not conceded a goal in 10 league games, equalling the club record last achieved in 1921/22.

Celtic have also won their last 13 domestic matches while Danny Lennon's ninth-placed side have won just two of their last 12 league matches.

Consequently few will give the Paisley side a chance of doing anything against the champions.

However, the Hoops boss, who has drafted new signing Leigh Griffiths into his squad following the completion of the 23-year-old striker's move from Wolves on Friday, believes the lack of pressure on St Mirren could make them dangerous.

"It is down to the standards players have set," said Lennon, who lost midfielder Joe Ledley to Crystal Palace minutes before the transfer deadline.

"Not only are we unbeaten but we are on this great run of clean sheets as well.

"I would imagine the clean sheet run will go before the unbeaten run goes but they might go at the same time.

"It is something that we are very wary of. It is a free game for every team now, to come and have a go and be the team that ends the record or the unbeaten run."

Striker Anthony Stokes, who returns after a two-game suspension, welcomed the addition of Griffiths to the Hoops squad.

The Republic of Ireland international said: "It is the usual at this club. We bring in players during most transfer windows, midfielders, strikers, whatever.

"It is competition for the club and it is a good thing. It will spur everyone on and the likes of myself will have to improve to keep in the team.

"He is a great finisher, he is lively, he plays on the shoulder and I am sure he will bring a lot to the squad."

The former Hibernian and Sunderland player is keen to keep improving on Celtic's already impressive statistics.

He said: " Going unbeaten for so many games is an outstanding record. We are also proud of the clean sheets and want to maintain the winning run.

"It has been going well, we have been playing good football and scoring goals so we want to keep that up."

The Hoops will be without Adam Matthews (calf), Mikael Lustig (hip), Beram Kayal (foot) and Steven Mouyokolo (Achilles).

Former Aberdeen striker Josh Magennis could make his St Mirren debut when the Buddies travel to Celtic Park after signing on loan until the end of the season.

Defender Marc McAusland has been freed to play despite being sent off for a foul on Hearts' Dale Carrick on Wednesday night after Saints lodged an appeal.

But St Mirren boss Danny Lennon will definitely be missing Danny Grainger after the full-back sealed a free-transfer switch to Dunfermline, while the already-injured trio of striker Stephane Bahoken (thigh), midfielder Kenny McLean (knee) and winger Gary Teale (groin) remain unavailable.

Lennon hopes money will not talk when his side take on runaway Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic.

The Hoops are 18 points clear of nearest challengers Aberdeen and have not conceded a top-flight goal since beating the Dons 3-1 back in November.

Buddies boss Lennon says that is to be expected when you compare the budget namesake Neil Lennon has to spend against those of the league's other managers.

But he also believes his side are good value when it comes to shocking the Parkhead side, as they did in last year's League Cup semi-finals.

Lennon said: "It doesn't get much tougher than Celtic at home. They have certainly got that bit between their teeth with this run that they are on.

"Celtic should be miles ahead of the rest and it doesn't surprise me the number of goals they take off teams in this league because they pay the money for that type of top quality.

"Fortunately for us football is not played with money. It's played 11 v 11 and we showed last season if we can keep our application and concentration going for 90 minutes we can upset them.

"We will look to do the same on Sunday."

Source: PA