Last updated : 30 September 2004 By Pars Mad
Wheres yer Larsson gone, wheres yer Larsson gone?
It's sod's law isn't it? The Pars finally look to be building some momentum and then this fixture rears its ugly head!

On the back of two consecutive wins, the Pars face a somewhat daunting trip to Celtic Park to face a Celtic side who have lost only three times in the last few years on their own patch. Just as well then that one of those three losses came against the mighty DA only a matter of months ago.

The Pars players will also be able to beath at little easier going into Saturday's game, safe in the knowledge that a certain Swedish striker will not be facing them. Mr Larsson - a man who seemed to enjoy subjecting the Pars to a great amount of misery - scored five goals in five games against the Pars last season. However as we all know Henrik's goalscoring days at Celtic Park are well and truly over - well in a Celtic shirt anyway!

In all truth the trip to Celtic Park doesn't exactly look promising - if the history books are to believed anyway. In total of 46 fixtures between the two sides at the 'Tattie Bowl', the Pars have won only 5 times, drawing once and losing a total of 40 matches against O'Neill's side. Couple that with the Pars conceding an average of three goals a game at Celtic Park, then the signs don't look to promising.

The Pars more recent record against Celtic does however offer some kind of optimism for any Pars fans hoping for a decent result this weekend.

Last season's first encounter between the two sides - played on the first day of the new campaign - was a somehwat heated affair - the memory of Chris Sutton's idiotic 'lie-down' claims still very much fresh in the mids of Pars fans and players alike. In front of a fairly full East End Park crowd, a tenacious Pars side fought out a 0-0 draw gainst the - then - SPL runners-up. In a game of missed chances, the Pars would come away feeling aggrieved not to have won all three points - Derek Young and Barry Nicholson, in particular, passing up good opportunities.

The second match of the season between to the two sides provided a fairly predictable outcome, in terms of scoreline anyway, with the Pars going down 5-0 at Celtic Park on the 8th of November. In terms of performance however, the Pars provided more than a match for the home side - for the first 78 minutes at least. After going down 1-0 midway through the first-half to a John Hartson strike, the Pars rallied and fought back, with Billy Mehmet coming agonisingly close - according to the referee anyway! - to grabbing a Pars equaliser. A late onslaught saw the home side score four goals in the last twelve minutes thanks to efforts from John Hartson (again), Ross Wallace, Stan Varga and Henrik Larsson - the goals ensuring the outcome looked anything but a closely-fought affair.

The next match between the sides - played on Wednesday the 11th of February in front of the Pars biggest crowd of the season, 11201 - saw Chris Sutton's first East End Park appearance since his well-publicised comments. The Celtic striker was promptly jeered every time he managed to touch the ball. Sutton - a dead ringer for Shrek's sidekick 'Donkey' - was to have the last laugh however, Celtic coming away 4-1 winners. In a very similar style to the previous match, the scoreline severly flattered O'Neill's side with the Pars controlling the majority of the game. After taking an early lead thanks to a Noel Hunt header, the Pars eventually succumbed to goals from Larsson (2), Varga and Alan Thompson - each goal eminating from a set-piece, an area the Pars will undoubtedly have to address going into Saturday's fixture.

The final league fixture between the sides, played on Sunday the 2nd of May, was a far more memorable occasion for the Pars, Calderwood's side running out 2-1 winners at Celtic Park thanks to goals from Barry Nicholson and Gary Dempsey - Henrik Larsson pulling a goal back early in the second-half. Supported by a small, but loyal, band of supporters, the Pars turned in a truly courageous performance without the help of injured strikeforce Crawford and Brewster. Inspired by top-class performances from, among others, Derek Stillie and Lee Bullen, the Pars fully merited the three points on a truly historic day for all Pars fans - more of the same on Saturday would be greatly recieved.

With the Pars going down 3-1 to Celtic in the fifth, and final, meeting of the season betwen the sides in the Scottish Cup Final, the onus will no doubt once again be back with O'Neill's side. Backed by an 18000 strong support - christ knows where they've all dissapeared to! - the Pars once again gave as good as they got. Going ahead thanks to an Andrius Skerla header, the Pars eventually lost out to a Larsson double and a Stilian Petrov clincher - not to mention losing out to some truly abysmal refereeing. Just how the referee failed to spot Bobo Balde's blatant penalty-box handball is beyond me...having said that, the Old Firm have been getting away with this sort of thing for many a year, just ask Billy Brown!

With Gary Mason and Derek Young still struggling with injury, Davie Hay's options in midfield look fairly limited. If Mason does fail to regain full fitness in time then it would seem likely that recent signing Thomas Butler will continue to his role on the left-side of midfield. Hay may also be forced to consider his frontline after Noel Hunt's substitute performance against Partick in the League Cup, although it would seem likely that the manager will continue with the partnership of Brewster and Mehmet.

Can the Pars continue their recent good run - if you can define two wins as a run - and get a result at the fortress of Celtic Park?
The Pars have certainly managed it before. If they were to do it this time, Hay would no doubt become alot more popular in the eyes of an unsatisfied Pars faithful.