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Celtic V Partick Thistle – 5th April 2017

Alan Archibald spoke to ahead of his side’s trip to Celtic Park on Wednesday night. With his side in pole position for sixth spot the Maryhill men face the formidable task of trying to stop a so far unbeatable Celtic side. While Archibald is under no illusions, he knows his side go into the tie in excellent form and full of confidence.

“It’s a tough place to go, there’s no doubt about that but we’ve put ourselves in the best possible position. We said to the lads after we beat Aberdeen that we wanted them to go on a run as we played all the teams around us and, to give our players credit, they have been brilliant. They’ve gone undefeated but we knew how important it was to get those points on the board because we knew we had these tough games coming at the end of the run.

“We’ve put ourselves in pole position for the top six place but we’ll need a really good performance today to stand a chance of going and getting anything. To be fair though we do go into the game full of confidence so if it’s going to be then it’s going to be.

“They’ve been almost invincible this season and they are a really tough, tough team to play. I think when you look at Griffiths and Dembele not being able to play at the weekend some thought that would make them weaker but if anything it just made them stronger as it was a real hard system to play against.”

While most of the pre-match focus away from Firhill has been on the champions, Archibald is quietly confident that his side will be able to cause their cross-city neighbours some problems of their own.

“We need to cope with what they have to offer but it’s important to remember that we did create chances the last time we went there and that should give us greater confidence. We had a few good chances when we played there in December and, even though we lost 1-0, on a different day it could have been a very different story.

“We need to make sure we start well and stifle the atmosphere in the first 10 or 15 minutes. They will want to create a party atmosphere but we’re hoping to spoil it. We’ll concentrate on our own game and performing as well as we know we can, we won’t be phased by what will no doubt be a big atmosphere.”

Kilmarnock currently sit four points behind Archie’s men and have games against Rangers, Celtic and Hearts to look forward to.

“Kilmarnock have got tough games coming up, just like we do, but they maybe have a small advantage as they’ve got two at home. We just need to make sure we match their results and don’t let the small cushion that we do have go to waste.

“Our main goal is first and foremost getting into the top six. Once we get there we’ll see where we are and set the next target for the post-split games. At the moment though everything is focussed on making sure that spot in the top six is ours.

“We’re in a good position just now but you saw last season just how quickly things can change. We missed out by a single goal up in Dingwall and all of a sudden found ourselves in a relegation battle. That’s why it’s so important to remain focussed right until the end.

“A top six place doesn’t just mean safety but it also allows us to go and plan early for next season which is vital and can make a big difference. As I say though, we aren’t there yet and we just need to take it a game at a time, starting with tonight at Celtic Park.”

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