Penalty Symmetry

Ahh Motherwell. It seems an age since we played them last, which is good because back then we did nothing but.

When we clinched the League Cup at Hampden with a 2-0 win over Motherwell, it was the first of three games in a week against them. The midweek game saw us rescue a point from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw, while the home game was a far more comfortable 5-1 thrashing with Odsonne Edouard picking up a hat trick along the way.

The penalties were the controversial topic of the week of course.

The second goal in the League Cup final came from the spot after Scott Sinclair was pulled back by Cedric Kipre – a man who shouldn’t have been on the pitch given the way he was tackling earlier in the game.

The pull back was pretty soft, but it was a pull back nonetheless and whether Sinclair went down too easily or not isn’t really relevant. Sometimes you have to illustrate the point to the referees in this country, after all Sinclair has been denied penalties before and since by staying on his feet and being too honest!

The penalty in the midweek game was far more obvious, but it didn’t stop people suggesting otherwise. With Callum McGregor going away from goal, and Celtic chasing a late equaliser to try and continue the long unbeaten domestic record, he was bundled over by Andy Rose. Cut and dry decision this time, I just think people were desperate to continue the narrative about Celtic players going down easily.

That came ten minutes after Mikael Lustig had bundled the ball into his own net, so he would have been very relieved that the domestic unbeaten run wasn’t ended that way!

The 5-1 win was a nice ending to that week though. A resounding and comprehensive victory, one that no narrative could try to deflect. Brendan Rodgers even got to make a few changes to the team and so it’s actually pretty amusing that a few of the second string managed to do best against Motherwell!

Fast forward to present day, and Motherwell have changed quite a bit. Louis Moult has long since gone, but they seem to have adapted quite well and will face Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi final. There’s a chance then that for the second season running both domestic finals will feature the same two teams.

Obviously Aberdeen and the mob beat last week will hope to affect that!

Speaking of the Ibrox side…

Losing to Kilmarnock yesterday, coupled with Aberdeen narrowly beating Dundee, means that the most points any other team in the league can achieve is Aberdeen with 80. With Celtic on 67 now, 14 more points will definitely secure a seventh league title in a row.

Three of them could be achieved today of course.

Any more points dropped by teams behind us would reduce that requirement further, but as things stand then five wins will do it. Motherwell today, followed by Ross County, Dundee and Hamilton – assuming Aberdeen win all of their games – would see Celtic with the chance to clinch the title in the first game after the split.

Currently pencilled in to be the final Glasgow derby of the season. Watch that get hastily redrawn soon if it even looks like a chance that could happen.

But let’s focus on today. We didn’t win at Fir Park on our last visit, and the time before that was actually the 4-3 victory in December 2016. That game is pretty much accepted as the toughest one of the 69 domestic game unbeaten run as it was the only time where we had been two goals down!

So I’m expecting another tough match this afternoon. Motherwell are seven points behind Hearts at the moment but have two games in hand. The top six is still achievable for them, but they’ll likely have to win today if they want to do it. Relegation seems unlikely, but you don’t want to risk it if at all possible. You’d much rather do what Partick Thistle did last season and finish sixth in both game 33 and 38!

Stephen Robinson has definitely turned things around at Motherwell and has shown himself to know what is necessary. Yes, sadly, sometimes that means kicking lumps out of your opponent if the referee will let you away with it. But we’ve also seen Motherwell play decent attacking football and in Trevor Carson they have a goalkeeper that has shown many times he is more than capable.

We did try to get him in January remember! He also kept the score down at Hampden and Fir Park earlier this season.

We haven’t really managed a decent league run all season. We’ve won three league games in a row on a few occasions now but always drop points after that. Currently, after our defeat at Kilmarnock and our draw at home to St Johnstone, we’ve actually beaten our two nearest rivals away from home despite being reduced to ten men in both games.

It would be nice to kick in from here and get that run up to seven. Do that, and the league titles in a row will nicely match up.

And who doesn’t love a bit of symmetry?!

Krys (Twitter @krys1888)

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