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Motherwell have pulled away from the bottom with back-to-back 2-1 victories from their past two outings over Ross County and Dundee United.
However, those sides are fellow bottom-half travellers, while previous results offer little in the way of encouragement. Indeed, prior to those wins, the visitors had lost eight of 13 winless matches in all competitions going back to the start of November.
Still, they have only suffered defeat in one of their past five now under new manager Graham Alexander and so Celtic would do well not to underestimate them, especially as that included a stalemate hosting runaway leaders Rangers.
Motherwell are W2-D5-L7 against top-half sides this season, drawing three of the last four such matches, though it’s worth noting that when restricted to encounters with the Old Firm duo alone, that record is somewhat different.
That recent point against the champions elect was a rare one as Motherwell have now lost 12 of their past 13 against Celtic and Rangers, with all but one of those defeats coming by at least two clear goals.
In fact, facing the Hoops alone, Motherwell have lost all seven head-to-heads from this period by that margin, as six saw them beaten by a minimum three-goal margin. That includes both encounters this term (3-0 and 4-1), despite the capitulation in form Celtic have experienced this year.
Celtic -1 Handicap
Neil Lennon clearly isn’t going to remain in his current post beyond this season, but it would seem professional pride has finally kicked in as they ran out convincing 4-0 winners away at Kilmarnock last time out.
For all their problems, Celtic have still found life easy facing bottom-half teams as they’ve won 12 of 14 such unbeaten matches this term, with each of the past six encounters against these teams seeing them triumph by at least two clear goals (by an aggregate 16-0 scoreline).
20 of Celtic’s last 24 league wins against anyone have come by a minimum two-goal margin, and the handicap appears a healthy price here.
The team news is much the same for Celtic, with Christopher Jullien and James Forest remaining unavailable, though Motherwell have as many as six players ruled out for the trip to Glasgow.
Goalkeepers Trever Carson and Scott Fox are long-term absentees, as are full-back Charles Dunne and defensive midfielder Liam Donnelly, with the latter chipping in with 11 goals across all competitions last term.
Mark O’Hara, another defensive midfielder has been sidelined more recently alongside versatile full-back Liam Grimshaw, so Motherwell do appear short at the back.