Former Ross County defender Brian Irvine believes his old club can take confidence from two wins over Celtic last season as they head to Glasgow this Saturday.
Although Malky Mackay has brought in 12 new players and 16 have left the Global Energy Stadium this summer, the fact that the Staggies beat the Hoops home and away can give the new boys encouragement along with those already there that they can get a result.
Under Stuart Kettlewell, goals from Ross Stewart and Alex Iacovitti earned the Highlanders a 2-0 win in the League Cup in November at Parkhead.
Kettlewell’s replacement John Hughes then masterminded a 1-0 home league victory over the faltering Celtic thanks to a Jordan White winner in February, a key result on the way to Premiership survival.
Ross County have troubled Hoops
County’s success rate over Celtic is better than many clubs, with five wins and six draws out of 31 meetings, including a famous 2-0 Scottish Cup semi-final triumph at Hampden in 2010.
The Dingwall side travel in confidence on the back of a 1-1 draw at Aberdeen just over a week ago when they were a few minutes away from victory to move on to two points from four fixtures.
Irvine, who played for County from 1999 to 2004, locked horns with Celtic many times as an Aberdeen player and knows what is required to get one over either side of the Old Firm.
And he feels the recent battling 4-2 defeat against Rangers is another positive for the Staggies as they hit the road to Glasgow’s east end to face a Celtic side looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at Ibrox.
He said: “County do have a good record against Celtic. They have caused them problems over the past few years in quite crucial games.
“It’s a different Celtic team for Celtic too and there’s no reason why County can’t go into it with confidence.
“They have to take that performance against Rangers into the Celtic match. They pushed Rangers hard and there is nothing to suggest they cannot do that against Celtic.
“In current form, they are not as strong as Rangers and are under a bit of pressure because they cannot afford to lose another game within their next half dozen, having lost two of their opening four league games.
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— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) September 6, 2021
“There is pressure on Celtic that County will hope to capitalise on. The pressure will be on them to get that result. County can take advantage of any slip-up at all, especially in the early stages of the game if they can keep it tight and not concede early.
“County go into this one largely with a fresh group of players and there is no baggage over any past defeats against Celtic.
“Whether in Dingwall or Glasgow, County as a club have enjoyed results against them. That means they team can go there without thinking ‘we’ve not won there for 10 years’. They can have that in their mind.”
How to avoid Parkhead routs
While Celtic have failed to win away from home in the league since February, they are strong on home turf under new boss Ange Postecoglou.
They have posted 6-0 home routs over Dundee and St Mirren this season and Irvine believes that’s why keeping their cool and keeping it tight can lay the foundation for a positive result.
Irvine, who won the Scottish Cup for Aberdeen against Celtic with the decisive Hampden penalty in 1990 in a record-breaking 9-8 shoot-out, insists the Staggies need a full-squad effort to succeed.
He added: “Dundee and St Mirren each had a man sent off, which didn’t help them, albeit Dundee’s was really late on.
“Against Celtic, you need all your 11 men performing at their peak. You cannot afford to have anyone sent off, which makes these games – or indeed any game – even more difficult.”