The build-up to this Scottish Premiership clash between Celtic and Kilmarnock has been dominated by the passing earlier this week of Lisbon Lion Billy McNeill. McNeill was the skipper when Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967, and the club plan to mark his passing ahead of kick off on Saturday.
That will make the game a very emotional occasion, something which is sure to play into the hands of Celtic. A 0-0 draw at Hibernian last weekend means that Neil Lennon’s Celts are still waiting to claim the title that they have all but won. For Steve Clarke’s Killie, the points are needed to keep up the pressure on Aberdeen and try to take a third placed finish in the league. Last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at home to the Dons was Killie’s brought an end to a six-game unbeaten run.
Celtic vs Kilmarnock Prediction: Bhoys 2-1 Killie
Our prediction for this game is that Celtic will ride the wave of emotion surrounding the passing of Billy McNeill to victory. It may not be as convincing as many of the club’s fans would like, though. Celtic have enough attacking power to score at least twice on Saturday, though we expect Killie to score once too. The teams have pretty similar records over the last six games, and home advantage will be key for the Celts. Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke may be on his way at the end of the season, too, and he will be keen for his players to perform well at Parkhead.
Our recommended tip: Celtic, both score
Three red cards for Killie in their defeat at home to Aberdeen last week means that Clarke will have to deal with suspensions. That will further reduce Killie’s chances of victory at a ground where they were beaten 5-1 earlier in the season. Our featured tip for this game is therefore for Celtic to win and both teams to score. Betway is offering odds of 5/2 for this bet, which looks pretty reasonable to us in terms of value. The odds are very short for all markets which have Celtic winning the game, so 5/2 represents good value for this game.
These sides have met on three previous occasions in 2018/19, with all three of those games coming in the Scottish Premiership. The first game was at Rugby Park in September and was won 2-1 by the Ayrshire side. The second meeting came at Celtic Park in December, and was won in emphatic style by Celtic, who triumphed 5-1. The third meeting came at Rugby Park in February and ended in a 1-0 win for Celtic. Killie’s Kirk Broadfoot and Celtic’s Scott Brown were both sent off in the third clash.
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Players to watch: James Forrest & Eamonn Brophy
Celtic and Scotland winger James Forrest has enjoyed a fine season for club and country. Forrest has scored 11 goals in 31 Scottish Premiership games in 2018/19, and has also provided nine assists for his team-mates over the course of the league campaign. A livewire presence, whether deployed out wide or through the middle, Killie will have to find a way to cope with Forrest’s pace and creativity.
Eamonn Brophy is Kilmarnock’s top goal scorer this season, with the striker having found the net 10 times in 28 games in all competitions in 2018/19. He has also weighed in with two assists, both of which have come in the Scottish Premiership. If Killie are to have any chance of winning at Celtic Park on Saturday, they need Brophy to be sharp. Chances are always at a premium for away sides at Parkhead, and they need to converted when they come.