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Celtic will need to focus fully in Wednesday's Cup clash at Arbroath, says Andy Walker

Features - Andy Walker Posted 10th December 2012 view comments

Following the hugely impressive achievement of reaching the knockout phase of the Champions League, Neil Lennon's Celtic side now turn their attention to a domestic knockout tournament when they travel to Arbroath for a Scottish Cup replay on Wednesday night.

The 1-1 draw at Celtic Park 10 days ago proved that the Scottish champions should take nothing for granted against a spirited Second Division part-time side.

Paul Sheerin's part-timers also deserve enormous credit for securing a lucrative replay and a second Cup clash against the Scottish champions will be the highlight of their season.

Arbroath player-manager Paul Sherrin during the 1-1 draw at Celtic Park

Arbroath player-manager Paul Sherrin during the 1-1 draw at Celtic Park

Even allowing for the fact that a number of his men will have already put in a hard day's work before kick-off in front of the live Sky Sports cameras at Gayfield on Wednesday, motivation won't be a problem for Arbroath's player-manager.

Paul Sheerin has enough big-game experience from his playing days and brief managerial career to know how to approach this game.

The experience of Brian Kerr, alongside that of his player-manager, will be a deciding factor in whether Arbroath can get some sort of foothold in the game.

Andy Walker
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Last season, I covered Arbroath's Scottish Cup tie at home to Rangers and given that they lost this one 4-0, my guess is that Sheerin will have learned a lot from that experience.

Everton's Nikica Jelavic was in top form for Rangers on that occasion when the part-timers played a very open game and with Celtic having similar big names capable of swinging the game their way, I doubt Arbroath will be so adventurous in their approach for this one.

The experience of former Newcastle, Motherwell and Dundee midfielder Brian Kerr, alongside that of his player-manager, will be a deciding factor in whether Arbroath can get some sort of foothold in the game.

Approach

On Saturday against Kilmarnock in the SPL, Celtic demonstrated just how far in front they are of the rest in Scotland with a professional and ruthless display.

However, it's fair to say Neil Lennon's men haven't always had the best attitude towards domestic games this season.

Defeats to St Johnstone, Kilmarnock & Inverness Caledonian Thistle as well as some surprising draws have meant that Lennon can trust some players more than others and on Saturday against Kilmarnock, he had a team that were totally focused on the 90 minutes.

Make no mistake, if the Celtic players have the correct attitude from now until the end of the season, they will win the treble.

Against the very best Europe has had to offer in the Champions League, Neil Lennon's men have had the ability to win difficult games home & away.

Having already progressed to the semi-final of the Scottish Communities League Cup and now beginning to open a gap at the top of the SPL, attitude to games is their only handicap.

A win over Arbroath will see them progress as huge favourites again with another tricky tie against lower league opposition in the form of Raith Rovers.

My guess is that with Champions League football on the backburner til February, Celtic will now start to focus all of their attention on domestic matters.

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