Stuart Armstong: Celtic aren't thinking about history
Saturday’s 2-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox stretched Celtic’s unbeaten run in domestic football since the start of the season to 24 games.
They are now just two matches short of equalling the mark of 26 undefeated domestically achieved by Jock Stein’s Lisbon Lions from the start of the European Cup winning campaign in 1966-67.
After the winter break, Celtic’s next two fixtures will be against Albion Rovers at the Excelsior Stadium in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup on 22 January and a re-scheduled Premiership game at home to St Johnstone three days later.
If they emerge unscathed from those two outings, the chance to break the record would come in their home league match against Hearts on 29 January.
Midfielder Armstrong, again outstanding for Celtic on Saturday as they stretched their lead at the top of the Premiership to 19 points, believes the single-minded approach instilled by manager Brendan Rodgers has been the key to their domestic invincibility so far. That approach proved especially effective in December when Celtic played nine matches, winning all eight in the Premiership and wrapping up their Champions League campaign with a 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
“We never think about making history or things like that,” said Armstrong. “It’s a game by game approach. We had to be like that in December, we’ve not had a moment to think, it’s been a game every three days or so.
“It’s never been our style to get ahead of ourselves, it’s one game at a time and I don’t see us preparing any differently. Now we’ve got a chance for a bit of a rest before we get back at it again. We can reflect slightly before going again.
“We have our own targets and goals and we stick to those. I don’t think we ever get complacent, whether it be away to anyone in the league or at home or in the Champions League. We approach each game in the same manner and I think that’s been shown in our performances and results.”
Celtic will head to Dubai at the end of this week for a nine-day warm weather training camp. Armstrong has no doubt it will help them prove equally consistent and effective in the second half of the season.
“We’ve now got a chance to rest ourselves physically and mentally,” he added. “We’ve obviously had a couple of injuries in the first half of the season, with Scott Sinclair and James Forrest both out for spells, but now they’re back fit. We’ve got a full complement again in terms of our squad. That’s very important and now it’s a very big push for the second half of the season when it comes.”
Armstrong is also hopeful Celtic will hold on to all of their key first-team players during the January transfer window, despite strong interest in players such as Moussa Dembele who scored his 19th goal of the season and fifth in three games against Rangers on Saturday.
“Good performances by individuals always attract interest and attention,” said Armstrong. “But, as players, that’s not our focus, our focus is on the games. What a great result we’ve had over Rangers and we’re now looking forward to a bit of rest which has so far eluded us.”