Celtic finally return to SPFL action after a 10-day break since their last match against Kilmarnock that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Left-back Boli Bolingoli visited Spain before that match and then played a part in the game against Kilmarnock as a substitute, without undergoing self-quarantine. While the post-game talk was largely about the Bhoys' failure to win against Kilmarnock, the utter lack of discipline displayed by the Belgian footballer soon became a bigger talking poin.
As a result, Celtic were not allowed to participate in their next two scheduled matches - against St. Mirren and Aberdeen - leading to fierce rivals Rangers taking a 6-point lead over the defending champions. Those two fixtures have since been postponed indefinitely, but the champions do return to SPFL action this weekend with a trip to Dundee United.
United have seven points from four games so far this season and are fresh off a morale-boosting 2-1 win over Ross County. Owing to the unforseeable circumstances, the 4th-placed home team actually find themselves above 6th-placed Celtic.
Dundee United vs Celtic head-to-head
This is the first time the two teams will clash since the 2015-16 season when Dundee got relegated to the second division.
Dundee's return to the top flight has been pleasant so far, but their record against the champions won't inspire any confidence. Since the last time Dundee won against Celtic in the SPFL in 2014, the Bhoys have beaten the Terrors with an aggregate scoreline of 19-2.
In the last season Dundee were in the Premiership, Celtic were particularly ruthless against them. They beat them 5-0 and 1-4 as they romped to yet another league title.
Dundee, however, will be buoyed by their decent run of results to start the new season. Unfortunately, any hope for Dundee that the Celts' unanticipated break would've made a few players feel rusty and out-of-rhythm was thrown out of the window when Celtic cruised to a 6-0 win against KR Reykjavik in the first round of the Champions League qualifiers.
Dundee United (last five games): W-L-W-D-D.
Celtic (last five games): W-D-W-W-W.
Dundee United vs Celtic team news
Creative winger Paul McMullan remains unavailable for selection due to an injury. Micky Mellon might also continue to be without star-striker Lawrence Shankland who tore up the second division last season with 24 goals in 26 games. Ligue 2 side Guingamp are said to have offered over £2 million for his services.
Mellon's side have often switched between a 3-man and a 4-man back-line throughout the season, and it'll be interesting to see which system he prefers against the mighty Celtic strikeforce.
Manchester City loanee Luke Bolton has operated well as a right-sided wing-back, while Jamie Robson has made the left-side his own. However, Robson's injury forced Mellon to give a chance to back-up Adrian Sporle who has done a very decent job.
A couple more injuries to first-team players means that the Dundee manager has had to rely on youngsters in their last game. While they got the job done in incredible fashion on that occassion, Celtic pose a different threat altogether.
Injuries: Lawrence Shankland, Jamie Robson, Liam Smith, Paul McMullan, Ryan Edwards.
Boli Bolingoli was left out of the Celtic squad that thumped KR Reykjavik 6-0, but hardly anyone was surprised.
Manager Neil Lennon is clearly livid with the 25-year-old. Amidst transfer talks linking him with a move to France, there is a good chance that the Scottish champions never play Bolingoli again before selling him to a suitor.
Forward Leigh Griffiths continues to miss out due to a calf strain, but there are plenty of scoring options at Celtic's disposal in his absence. Talismanic striker Odsonne Edouard who scored a hat-trick on the very first day of the season, bagged another in their recent 6-0 rout.
Mohammed Elyounoussi bagged a brace himself and has been in good touch since arriving on loan from Southampton. Celtic wing-backs, Greg Taylor and Jeremie Frimpong, have also been very productive early in the season as well.
Injuries: Leigh Griffiths.
Suspension: Boli Bolingoli.
Dundee United vs Celtic Predicted XI:
Dundee United (4-5-1): Benjamin Siegrist; Kieran Freeman; Mark Connolly; Mark Reynolds; Adrián Sporle; Luke Bolton; Ian Harkes; Calum Butcher; Peter Pawlett; Logan Chalmers; Louis George Appéré.
Celtic (4-2-3-1): Vasilis Barkas; Jeremie Frimpong; Christopher Jullien; Kristoffer Ajer; Greg Taylor; Scott Brown; Callum McGregor; James Forrest; Ryan Christie; Mohamed Elyounoussi; Odsonne Edouard.
Dundee United vs Celtic prediction
It is tough not to predict a win for Celtic. There is certainly a lot of disappointment surrounding the club regarding Bolingoli's actions as their fans have been deprived of league football due to a complete lack of responsibility. There could've been any better way of returning to action than a 6-0 drubbing in the Champions League qualifiers, but Celtic's focus is now on a much more serious matter - the SPFL.
Their front-4 of Edouard, Elyounoussi, Christie and Forrest have been breath-taking at times this season. The ability of the full-backs to bomb forward make Celtic an offensive force to reckon with.
Dundee on the other hand, are missing one player too many and have had to depend on youngsters so far. Although they have duly delivered to this point, it will be unfair to expect the same against a much superior side like Celtic.
Celtic's defending has come under the scanner often in recent times, as they have failed to live up to the standards demanded by their fans.
The game against Dundee will be a good opportunity for the defending champions to get their first clean-sheet in the league this season and also score a few goals in the process.
Final Verdict: Dundee United 0-4 Celtic.Published 20 Aug 2020, 19:26 IST