After a fiery Edinburgh derby draw with Hibernian in midweek, Heart of Midlothian travel to Glasgow to face Celtic on Saturday. Hearts will be looking for revenge for their 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Hoops in the Scottish League Cup semi-final last week. After a tricky start to the season, Celtic have started to find form, and have handed out some thrashings in the league in recent weeks, despite not looking anywhere near as good in their Europa League games.
The Bhoys have scored eight goals in their last two games, having won 5-0 away at Dundee in midweek in the Premiership. Hearts’ midweek game, in contrast, was a goalless draw with Hibs, in a game marred by crowd trouble and controversy. Jambos boss Craig Levein must work to get his players’ focus back on football.
Celtic vs Heart of Midlothian Prediction: Celtic 2-0 Hearts
Our prediction for this game is that Celtic will win comfortably. Hearts will be drained after the Edinburgh derby in midweek, a game which will have taken an emotional as well as a physical toll on the players. The Hoops have been in excellent goal-scoring form in recent games, netting 18 times in their last five matches in all competitions. That suggests that Hearts will need to be very sharp at the back if they want to get anything at all from this game. The Jambos are also missing key players such as Steven Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu, whose absence will blunt their attack, and John Souttar, who is a key defender.
Our recommended tip: Celtic 2-0
Our tip for this game comes from Betway, who are offering tempting odds of 19/4 on our prediction of a 2-0 Celtic victory being accurate. We think that a 2-0 win for Celtic looks likely because of the recent form shown by the Hoops. Brendan Rodgers’ team have scored 18 goals in their last five matches, and swept Hearts aside in the League Cup semi-final last weekend, winning 3-0 at Murrayfield. Hearts are missing key players in both attack and defence, and are having to rely on midfielders like Sean Clare to lead their forward line. Their chances of pulling off an upset do not look too good.
These two sides faced each other just last weekend, in the Scottish League Cup semi-final at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Celtic emerged as emphatic winners from the contest, triumphing 3-0. All of their goals came in the second half of the game. Scott Sinclair scored their opening goal from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute. James Forrest added a second after 66 minutes, and Ryan Christie a third four minutes later. The Celts dominated the game, enjoying 64% of possession, and having 25 shots on the Jambos’ goal, ten of which were on target. Hearts managed just six shots, three of which were on target.
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Players to watch: Ryan Christie & Sean Clare
Celtic midfielder Ryan Christie has been receiving rave reviews for his recent performances in a Hoops jersey. Last week against Hearts, he won a penalty, had a shot saved which led to the Celts’ second goal, and then scored himself. He was only a substitute in that game, but started in midweek in the 5-0 demolition of Dundee. He produced another fine display on Tayside, and capped it with a 48th minute goal.
English midfielder Sean Clare deputised up front in midweek against Hibs, and he will probably be asked to lead the forward line again on Saturday. The former Sheffield Wednesday man had not started a game for Hearts until the game against Hibs. Jambos’ fans reaction to his performance in the derby was not at all positive, and the Englishman definitely has something to prove if he is named up front to face the Bhoys on Saturday.