Celtic: Partick Thistle boss Alan Archibald says champions are 'like a machine'

By Jonathan SutherlandBBC Scotland
Celtic's Anthony Ralston celebrates scoring against Kilmarnock in the League Cup
Anthony Ralston, who scored for Celtic against Kilmarnock, was one of five teenagers in the side

Celtic are "like a machine" and even stronger than last season, according to Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald.

The Scottish champions crushed Kilmarnock 5-0 on Tuesday in the League Cup as Thistle beat St Johnstone 3-0.

The Glasgow sides meet at Firhill on Friday in the Premiership with Archibald believing last season's domestic 'Invincibles' are even better.

"I think they are. I think that [5-0 win] just reinforced it with the amount of changes they made," he said.

"I think they made a few changes against us last year, and they weren't as strong as they were the other night.

"They are like a machine with the guys that come in. They just looked the same. They played a similar way in terms of tempo, pressing the ball and with the ball. They are certainly stronger squad-wise."

Celtic made eight changes and started with five teenagers against Kilmarnock, after opening the defence of their Premiership title with a 4-1 win over Hearts.

Thistle v Old Firm - 2016-2017 season
v Celticv Rangers
Lost 4-1 - homeLost 2-0 - away
Lost 1-0 - awayLost 2-1 - home
*Drew 1-1 - awayLost 2-0 - away
Lost 0-5 - homeLost 2-1 - home

Thistle have never beaten Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, losing all but one of their 19 meetings - a 1-1 draw at Parkhead in April ending a run of 24 consecutive defeats overall in the fixture.

Partick have also struggled against Rangers, their opponents in next month's League Cup quarter-finals, having lost all four league meetings last season.

Archibald admits there is a degree of trepidation when it comes to taking on their Glasgow neighbours, but insists his players are ready for the challenge.

"I think that fear factor is always there," he added. "They bring such big crowds. But I think the players will still embrace it - I think we have got to.

"You see that with Motherwell on Saturday, they were really unlucky against Rangers after Rangers' good start.

"It is down to the rest of the teams in the league to make sure we put the challenge in and make sure it isn't so easy for the top two - if they are going to be the top two and it's not going to be Aberdeen [runners-up for the last three seasons] this year."

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