Played six, scored three. Yikes, I wonder how Dundee United are feeling down there at the bottom of the table.

Excuse me, sorry, they're fifth? Have 10 points? Have conceded in only two league games and are above Celtic in the standings despite having scored 13 fewer goals? Wow, send my apologies to the Arabs.

Being dumped out the League Cup on Thursday by a Scott Allan inspired Hibs shouldn't detract from the solid start made by United under Thomas Courts, the youth team coach promoted during the summer to replace the unpopular Micky Mellon.

Their goals for column is the joint-lowest in the league alongside St Johnstone and Livingston, but when you don't concede many, you only need the odd goal to win a game. Nobody has conceded fewer in the league this season, although Celtic and St Johnstone (surprise!) are level with them on four concessions.

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After a tough opening against Aberdeen and Rangers, the latter of whom's lengthy unbeaten run ended in that fixture, United have picked up points in the type of matches likely to define their season. They've beaten St Johnstone away, taken a point from St Mirren in Paisley and deliriously sent their city rivals packing with a 1-0 win last weekend. An on-form Hearts side triumphed at Tannadice in among all that.

So, a team whose initial success has been built on good foundations up against a team whose early-season salvation has been the ability to tear visitors limb from limb on their own patch. Something's got to give, I suppose. So far this season, United are averaging less than 1 xG concession per game, despite opponents having nearly two dozen efforts on their goal. They're also conceding less than one counter-attack induced shot per game and generally speaking allow less than two "clear shots" during a match. In short, United are proving hard to break down this season.

Celtic Way: United are excelling in aspects of their defensive playUnited are excelling in aspects of their defensive play

Last season they preferred a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation with Ryan Edwards normally playing alongside Mark Connolly and Mark Reynolds. That's changed this year with a Connolly, often a bull in a China shop, and Reynolds spending time on the periphery as Edwards plays alongside new signing and former Celt, Charlie Mulgrew. His injury-enforced substitution against Hibs earlier in the week though means Reynolds will probably deputise and there will be no on-field homecoming for Mulgrew.

It's probably, just about, safe to assume that with the evidence from the season so far, United aren't going to try and beat Celtic at their own game. Why would they change style and leave themselves open to a, potentially, ruthless Celtic side on the Parkhead turf?

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Ryan Edwards has been pretty much a constant for United since the start of last season after joining from Blackpool. Since then, he's won two-thirds of his defensive duels on the ground and in the air, as well as 50/50 loose ball challenges. His reading of the game is impressive, making nearly eight interceptions per game and only going to the ground to win the ball once every six matches, quite astonishing for a centre-back. He also makes 14 recoveries per game and times his challenges well having been booked only three times since his tangerine arrival.

Celtic Way: Ryan Edwards' timing is excellent and he's only given away four fouls all seasonRyan Edwards' timing is excellent and he's only given away four fouls all season

In front of him, he has one of the most graceful players in the league; American midfielder Ian Harkes - husband to Celtic's Sarah.
His goal against St Mirren, albeit in a 5-1 reverse, last season was one of the most aesthetically pleasing finishes of the season and he became a proper hero with his winner against Dundee on Sunday.

He's not a goalscorer though, those two strikes are anomalies on his CV, he likes to receive the ball and move it on. He's not even a potent attacking threat, but he's a heartbeat and his passes into the final third find their target the vast majority of the time. Against this Celtic side it's important not to relinquish possession time after time, the necessity to buy respite can't be understated and when bringing the ball out of defence a calm head is needed. Harkes has that composure and ability to find space.

Celtic didn't struggle to break down Dundee, Hearts and St Mirren in August, but since the injury to Kyogo Furuhashi, have found it tougher despite scoring three goals in three of their last four games in all competitions. Livi's goals against column was hardly inspiring before they locked Celtic out last weekend but United's is mightily impressive with strength and organisation. That's the challenge facing Celtic this weekend. In the midst of an injury crisis, go and break down a team that so far this season, is proving tough to break down. Just ask Rangers.