GLASGOW, Scotland, November 16 – Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama has urged his teammates to show that they also mean business in the Scottish Premier League after impressing on their European excursions this season.
The Parkhead club have earned plenty of plaudits for their performances in the Champions League this term, none more so than after their 2-1 win over tournament favourites Barcelona two weeks ago.
With rivals Rangers languishing in Scotland’s Third Division the Hoops were expected to run away with this year’s SPL title.
However, Neil Lennon’s side have struggled for consistency on the domestic front and last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with St Johnstone means Celtic have collected just two points from their last three league games.
Despite that, Celtic are second behind leaders Hibs, two points adrift with a game in hand, and face third-placed Aberdeen on Saturday.
And midfielder Wanyama, who scored in the win over Barca, insists Neil Lennon’s men must replicate their European form on the domestic stage and approach every game in the same manner as they did against the Catalan giants.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, beating the best team ever, but we must focus on the league,” the Kenyan international said.
“I don’t want to think a game is won so I will approach all of them like it’s Barcelona I’m playing.”
Hoops boss Neil Lennon cited fatigue as a major factor in his side’s slump in form in the SPL following the draw with St Johnstone, which came on the back of a draw with Dundee United and a loss to Kilmarnock.
But the Celtic manager insists his most of his players will have benefitted from getting a break in midweek due to the international fixtures and said his side would be raring to go at Pittodrie.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to and with a week’s rest you will see a fresher, better Celtic,” said Lennon. “Aberdeen are going well, the atmosphere will be good and the players will thrive on that.”
Aberdeen can go above the champions with victory against Neil Lennon’s men at Pittodrie on Saturday
And while Dons boss Craig Brown insists his side aren’t genuine title contenders he is confident they can defeat Celtic in a one-off situation.
“We will be going all out to win the game against Celtic,” Brown said.
“Seeing Aberdeen up towards the top of the table is a nice feeling and it’s our job to stay up there. But I’m being honest and realistic – in my opinion Celtic will win the league. Celtic might lapse but they will not collapse in the SPL campaign no matter how many Champions League games they play.
“They beat Barcelona despite having six first-team players out – that shows you the level of their resources.
“But they can be beaten in a one-off game, as Kilmarnock showed recently, and that is what we intend to do. We want to be up there competing at the top of the table.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, bottom of the table Dundee host league leaders Hibernian at Dens Park and St Johnstone welcome Ross County to McDiarmid Park.
Financially-stricken Hearts welcome St Mirren to Tynecastle with the immediate threat of closure averted.
The Edinburgh outfit were issued with a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill of close to £450,000 but have since agreed an extension with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
Fixtures (1500 unless otherwise stated)
Dundee Utd v Kilmarnock (1945)
Aberdeen v Celtic (1200), Dundee v Hibernian, Hearts v St Mirren, St Johnstone v Ross County
Inverness CT v Motherwell (1245)