Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has urged his players to embrace the challenge of trying to beat the strongest team in Scotland.
The Dons, who stretched their winning run to four games with by beating Hearts 2-0 on Saturday, can go level on points with Celtic with a victory over the Hoops at Pittodrie in today’s Boxing Day showdown.
It is also an early chance for the Dons to avenge this month’s Betfred Cup final defeat when Ryan Christie’s first-half strike settled an evenly contested encounter at Hampden.
The Dons manager, who is likely to be without Max Lowe who picked up a groin injury against the Jambos, said: “It is a game that really whets the appetite.
“You always want the Boxing Day game to be at home.
“We saw the crowd on Saturday giving the players some fantastic support.
“We will need that and more against Celtic as they do provide the toughest challenge of any team in Scotland.
“They have shown they are the best team in Scotland but they are a team we feel we can beat.
“We are going into the game with confidence and a lot of players’ games in a good place.
“That helps us push towards getting that desired result.
“The past three games against Celtic have been very tight.
“It has been 1-0 in all three games. They won the cup final but there was not a lot in it.
“We found a way to win at Parkhead but there wasn’t a lot in that game either.
“I expect it to be another tight game but hopefully it is a winning performance from us.”
Seventeen-year-old Dean Campbell could make his first start of the season against Celtic if Lowe misses out through injury, having replaced the Derby full back in Saturday’s win over Hearts.
McInnes said: “There was a decision to make with who came on and we went for Dean to give us a bit more size at set-plays.
“It also gave us a bit more balance with Graeme Shinnie moving to left back as it gave us another left-footed player alongside Lewis Ferguson.
“When it was clear we needed another midfielder in there, I thought Dean, Lewis and Stephen Gleeson were really influential.
“Lewis Ferguson was outstanding.
“When it looked like the game might be going away from us, he stepped up again.
“That is the sign of a good player as when more is needed he gives it. He was very influential with young Dean.”