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Partick Thistle will relish Sunday's Celtic clash, says Andy Walker

Andy Walker - Andy Walker Posted 23rd October 2013 view comments

After the high of securing their first win in Group H of the Champions League, Celtic have a Glasgow derby to contend with on Sunday in front of the Sky cameras when they make the short journey to Maryhill to face Partick Thistle.

It won't have the intensity of a Champions League clash but having watched Alan Archibald's side a number of times this season, I know they will relish the opportunity of going up against the Scottish champions in front of their own supporters.

Tick-ing along nicely: Partick beat another Thistle, Inverness, in their last match

Tick-ing along nicely: Partick beat another Thistle, Inverness, in their last match

I covered Thistle's fine away win last Sunday in a controversial game with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and having already secured 13 points from their opening 10 games, they have built up a tremendous cushion over bottom-placed Hearts in their quest for survival.

It certainly didn't take them long to settle in the Premiership and as so often happens with a promoted side, they are used to winning games and the truth is Thistle don't look out of place at all against the majority of teams in Scotland's top flight.

In Stuart Bannigan and Kalum Higginbotham, Partick have players who can hurt Celtic.

Andy Walker
Quotes of the week

Two players who strike me as being vitally important to the way Archibald sets his team up are the full-backs, Stephen O'Donnell and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

Both have tremendous energy and constantly look to get into the last third to give their team-mate in possession as many options as possible.

Up front, Kris Doolan tends to be isolated for long periods but got a major boost last weekend in Inverness by scoring both goals.

The main criticism surrounding Thistle has been their inability to score enough goals but a target of around 15 strikes from Doolan is achievable.

In my view, Thistle have already shown that they look good enough to stay up and with a year's experience in the top flight under their belt, they can slowly add to the quality already there.

Dominate

Neil Lennon will surely look to freshen his team up, with the gruelling demands of Champions League football taking their toll.

Surprisingly, Joe Ledley was left out of the starting line-up against Ajax but he should be able to build his fitness up with 90 minutes on Sunday.

Club captain Scott Brown should also come back into the side following his suspension from Champions League duty and midfield will be an area that Archibald will look to try and dominate.

I wonder if he'll take a leaf out of Hibs boss Pat Fenlon's book and compete in a very physical sense?

Hibs received a fair bit of criticism last weekend for the way they went about their business against Celtic; Neil Lennon believing their tackling was over the top and "rugby-esque".

Thistle will be just as determined not to let Celtic gain the upper hand here and in Stuart Bannigan and Kalum Higginbotham, they have players who can hurt Celtic.

Defensively, though, Celtic are very strong.

Virgil Van Dijk is growing in stature with every passing week and in Fraser Forster, Celtic have a keeper who constantly produces big saves at important times.

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