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Match Preview – Celtic vs Kilmarnock

Last Updated: 07/12/18 3:40pm

Champions Celtic play Kilmarnock this weekend - but it's the Rugby Park side who are top of the Scottish Premiership

Champions Celtic play Kilmarnock this weekend - but it's the Rugby Park side who are top of the Scottish Premiership

Champions Celtic play Kilmarnock this weekend – but it’s the Rugby Park side who are top of the Scottish Premiership

Celtic will look to overtake surprise leaders Kilmarnock when the sides meet in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.

A combination of Kilmarnock’s 2-0 win over Livingston, previous pacesetters Rangers’ 1-0 loss to Aberdeen and a 1-1 Celtic draw at Motherwell on Wednesday means the Rugby Park side are top of the table for the first time in more than 20 years.

Having last led in October 1998, Kilmarnock will perhaps take heart from the fact they haven’t lost to Celtic since Steve Clarke took charge of the club last October.

With 64, they have also picked up more points than Celtic (61) and Rangers (60) in the calendar year, with 16 taken from the Old Firm in total since Clarke’s tenure began.

“The only ask I put on my players is to play as well as they can play,” Clarke said. “If they do that and it’s good enough to get a positive result, then great.

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers hasn't beaten Steve Clarke in four meetings so far since he joined Kilmarnock Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers hasn't beaten Steve Clarke in four meetings so far since he joined Kilmarnock

Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers hasn’t beaten Steve Clarke in four meetings so far since he joined Kilmarnock

“The chat about top of the league, great runs and great calendar years, is really quite irrelevant. It’s the fact that supporters look forward to come and watch the team, that’s the important thing.”

Celtic boss Rodgers will see his team go top of the table with a victory but appreciates the scale of the task they face against a side which has taken 10 points from a possible 12.

He said: “It’s a very competitive league. Of course, in the last couple of years we’ve won and won well but there are some outstanding managers doing some great work and some very good players.

“It’s a fantastic league to be involved in. It’s a very, very good level here with some great games.”

0:39
Brendan Rodgers believes Leicester’s Premier League title-winning season has ‘made the impossible possible’ with Kilmarnock top of the Scottish Premiership.

Brendan Rodgers believes Leicester’s Premier League title-winning season has ‘made the impossible possible’ with Kilmarnock top of the Scottish Premiership.

Team news

Nir Bitton is still out for Celtic despite being back in training for more than a month now. The Israel international suffered a knee injury in February and it still making his way back after surgery.

Otherwise, Rodgers has a full squad to choose from and he is likely to rotate his team once again after two points were dropped at Fir Park.

The Celtic manager made seven changes in Lanarkshire off the back of Sunday’s League Cup final win over Aberdeen and a number of key players are likely to return to the first XI.

0:35
Steve Clarke says Kilmarnock fans are dreaming of success after the club went top of the Scottish Premiership.

Steve Clarke says Kilmarnock fans are dreaming of success after the club went top of the Scottish Premiership.

Opta stats

  • Celtic are winless in their last four league meetings with Kilmarnock (D2 L2); only against Rangers (three times) have they ever gone 5+ games without a victory in the Scottish Premiership.
  • Kilmarnock have won just one of their 32 visits to Celtic in the Scottish Premiership (D6 L25), a 2-0 victory in October 2012.
  • Celtic have won each of their six league games at Celtic Park in 2018-19, the only 100% winning record at home in this season’s Scottish Premiership.
  • Kilmarnock have lost just one of their last 11 league games (W7 D3), a 2-1 defeat at home to Aberdeen in November.
  • Leigh Griffiths has scored seven goals in his last eight league appearances against Kilmarnock for Celtic.

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