Saturday presents Brendan Rodgers with one of those dilemmas every manager loves. Which of your highly effective players do you play and who do you leave out? Most bosses don’t have a choice like that. They have a preferred “first eleven” and little in the way of top class backups. That’s not something we have to worry about here.
In spite of our failure to bring in another attacking midfielder, we’re spoiled for choice in terms of our ability to do damage. This is one of the strongest Celtic squads in recent times when you look at the firepower we can bring to bear here. The way Brendan has us playing, the style he likes to adopt, quite literally leaves us spoiled for choice.
Do we play one striker? Leigh Griffiths, on his own? Or do we pair him with Dembele and give Sevco’s painfully slow defence a headache it can’t possibly cope with? The mobility of two pacy front men could leave them reeling.
Or do we put the extra man in midfield, playing Tom Rogic in the hole behind Griffiths? Not only would it give us solidity in the middle of the park, but it would let the big Australian get forward and use those good feet of his and that awesome ability to blast the ball.
As tantalising as those choices are, we’ve got even more out wide where we can choose two of three players, all with great pace and all with an eye for goal. Do we go with the Roberts-Sinclair partnership, the Sinclair-Forrest partnership or do we go with Forrest-Roberts? Do that, and you can drop Rogic into the centre and play Sinclair in the hole … a proposition so intoxicating I can barely function thinking about how deadly it could be.
Even our decision over the full-backs could be crucial here. If we play Gamboa it will be a risk, but only insofar as we’ve not seen him before. His pace could be devastating on the counter attack, and his ability to whip balls into the box will give their defence nightmares. If we play narrowly, using Sinclair-Forrest-Roberts to support the front men better our full backs will add an additional set of problems to those which will already be glaring.
The team selection for Saturday throws up a lot of interesting choices for Brendan, all of the good kind.
There’s little to complain about when you look at the balance of our squad in the final third. The way he has everyone focussed on the job means that goals could come from anywhere, but there’s a special significance attached to speed in this team and that will be more formidable than anything else this Sevco team will face.
The question as to who the manager will pick is one that will dominate discussions from here until the moment the team is announced.
There don’t appear to be many lingering injury issues – Patrick Roberts is fully fit, for a start – and so no real limits to what he can do.
I expect to enjoy this one, and I’ll be eager to see how Brendan approaches it.
In Brendan We Trust.