The 1-1 draw at Park Head today extended Celtic’s unbeaten run in the league this season. The last time Celtic were unbeaten after the first 11 games of the season was back in 2003 and so this is an achievement to be proud of. However, after a less than convincing draw at home to a side that sat in fifth position going into the match, there is some negativity and questions being asked. It took a 92nd minute equaliser from Charlie Mulgrew to maintain the run and Dundee United had their chances to put the game to bed.
It was pleasing to see Neil Lennon make four changes going into the game. Lustig, Kayal, Samaras and Pukki were dropped after the 2-1 victory over Partick Thistle at Firhill and were replaced by Fisher, Mulgrew, Forrest and Amido Balde. Injury prone summer signing Derk Boerrigter was back on the bench after his latest injury and even made an appearance with just less than twenty minutes to go. So the squad is being kept fresh and every player is playing their part, however I feel Amido Balde deserves more of a chance as he looked lively, whilst his replacement, Puki, was ineffective.
Celtic had chances in the first half with both Anthony Stokes, who signed a contract extension this week, and Amido Balde failing to make the breakthrough. It was, instead, Dundee United that scored the opener, Stuart Armstrong lifting it over Fraser Forster just before the break. Celtic struggled to create anything threatening after the break and could easily have said ‘cheerio’ to any remaining hope as Brian Graham squandered a fantastic opportunity. Stokes tested the United keeper at his near post and that was the closest we came, until the 92nd minute, where Charlie Mulgrew popped up and headed home an Emilio Izaguirre cross.
Neil Lennon was satisfied with the point in his post match interview but I disagree. Although Jackie McNamara is building a decent Dundee United side, we have got to be winning the home matches domestically. We cannot afford to get sloppy in the league and must continue to see Park Head as the fortress that it is. The main positive of today was the Man of the Match performance from Virgil Van Dijk, who is proving to be a massive talent and one that we must keep hold of. So, keep it quiet, we don’t want him leaving at the end of the season!!
A big improvement is needed for Wednesday’s trip to Amsterdam but with key players back I’m sure there will be.