Hearts vs Celtic
Kick-off: 1:30 pm
Competition: Scottish Premiership
Odds accurate as of 30/072021 on Betfair, odds may be subject to change.
Last season was as bad as it has been for Celtic in recent years, they missed out on what would have been a record breaking 10th league title in a row. In addition, they surrendered the league to bitter rivals Rangers. Celtic will be looking to kick their 2021-22 season off in a more positive fashion when they travel to Tynecastle this Saturday to face newly promoted Hearts.
New manager Ange Postocoglou will be keen to get off to a good start in the league, having only managed 1 win from 7 fixtures so far, including friendlies. He’s well aware that the fans will be expecting better from Celtic after watching their team be eliminated from the champions league, after a 3-2 aggregate loss to Danish side FC Midtjylland in the midweek qualifiers. Picking up 3 points in their season opener will go a long way and should give the team a much-needed boost in confidence.
Heart’s come into this one off the back of a stellar promotional campaign in the Scottish Championship, where they easily secured the title 12 points clear of 2nd place, and they seem to have carried some of that form into this season with an unbeaten record from their first 6 games, a mixture of league cup and friendlies. Heart’s manager Robbie Neilson won’t be happy with his team being in the league just to make up the numbers and will feel his side can make a real impact this season.
Hearts haven’t managed a win against Celtic since the 2018-19 season, a 1-0 win at home, which was only the second time they have beaten Celtic in the last decade. They won’t get many better opportunities than Saturday to secure a good result, with Celtic being both out of form and a team currently undergoing a full-scale rebuild.
Celtic have been criticised in the media for the lack of reinforcements in crucial areas, especially defence. However, they have completed the signings of exciting young winger Liel Abada, who has already opened his account for Celtic with a goal in their first leg game against Midtjylland, and defender Carl Starfelt with this game coming too soon for him.
Ange’s big decision will be who to play between the sticks as he has inherited one of Celtic’s biggest issues from last season in not being sure who his best shot-stopper is out of Scott Bain and Barkas.
Nir Bitton should return to the heart of defence after his suspension in Europe, with long term absentee Christopher Julien still sidelined. It is also expected that Leigh Griffith’s will miss this one with a knock.
Odsonne Edouard remains at the club for now and he should lead the line on Saturday, where he’ll be supported in attack by two of either Ryan Christie, James Forrest or Liel Abada.
Heart’s faced Inverness CT last week in the league cup and having already secured qualification from their group they had the luxury of resting a few players. Defender John Souttar remains doubtful, but if he is fit it’s expected that Craig Halkett and Stephen Kingsley partner him in a 3 man defence.
Dangerman Liam Boyce will most likely start as the club’s sole striker, the sharpshooter bagged 14 goals last season and will be eyeing up this fixture against what will likely be a makeshift Celtic defence.
Ex-Celt’s Craig Gordon and Gary Mackay-Steven are expected to start in goals and in attack, respectively, and I’m sure the two experienced pros will be relishing the opportunity to play against their old side.
Heart’s Predicted Line-Up:
Gordon; Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley; Smith, Haring, Halliday, Cochrane; Ginnelly, Mackay-Steven; Boyce
Celtic Predicted Line-up
Barkas; Ralston, Welsh, Bitton, Taylor; Turnbull, Soro, McGregor; Abada, Edouard, Christie
Celtic Last 5 (All Comps):
Heart’s Last 5 (All Comps):
Prediction & Betting Tip
I think this is one to approach cautiously as, despite Celtic being painted as the favourites by the bookies, the drama and uncertainty surrounding the club at the minute is making me think they could struggle against Hearts on Saturday. I think a safe bet is over 2.5 goals at 1.87, Celtic have the firepower to get goals but their shaky defence and goalkeeper should see them give up a few chances.
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