Celtic travel across Scotland to Edinburgh to face Heart of Midlothian on Wednesday evening after an eventful few days at Parkhead. All the talk in Scottish football this week has been about Brendan Rodgers leaving his position as Celtic gaffer to take on the job at Leicester City in the Premier League. Former boss Neil Lennon has now taken on the Celtic job on an interim basis until the end of the season.
Celtic bade farewell to Rodgers with a 4-1 home win over Motherwell at the weekend. Hearts head into his game on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw with strugglers St Mirren at Tynecastle. Craig Levein’s team will be keen to make amends for that result against the Celts. We should be in for an interesting game in Edinburgh.
Hearts vs Celtic Prediction: Jambos 1-2 Bhoys
Our prediction for this game is that Celtic will win the game 2-1. There is a sure to a passionate atmosphere at Tynecastle, especially given Lennon’s previous history at the ground. He was hit with a coin thrown by a Hearts supporter earlier this season when manager of Hibernian. How that febrile atmosphere affects the players remains to be seen, but Celtic are sure to be charged up for this clash. Given their array of attacking talent, we suspect that they will win the game, but it will be close. It may come down to a late goal or two.
Our recommended tip: Celtic win, BTTS
Our recommended tip for this game comes from William Hill, who are offering odds of 9/4 on Celtic to win and both teams to score. This bet matches our prediction of a 2-1 win for the Celts, but also gives you a little bit of flexibility when it comes to the final score. Results this season suggest that Celtic will win the game, but Neil Lennon’s return has ensured that the game will have a passionate atmosphere, which might make it a little unpredictable. We think that Hearts will probably score, but also lose the game.
These two sides have met on three previous occasions this season, twice in the league and once in the semi-final of the League Cup. The first league game came in August at Tynecastle, and was won 1-0 by Hearts, thanks to a Kyle Lafferty goal. The next meeting was the League Cup semi-final at Murrayfield in October. Celtic won this game 3-0 to reach the final. The latest meeting was at Celtic Park in the Scottish Premiership in November. Celtic thrashed the Jambos 5-0 that day, with Odsonne Edouard scoring two of the goals.
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Players to watch: Steven Naismith & Kieran Tierney
Veteran forward Steven Naismith remains an important part of Craig Levein’s line-up. While the great form he showed at the start of the season when Hearts were riding high has perhaps diminished a little, the 32-year-old is still a player who can turn a game with a moment of goalscoring quality, as he has showed in his Scotland appearances this season. His tally of 10 league goals and four in the League Cup shows his continuing importance to the Jambos.
Celtic’s star left back Kieran Tierney returned to first-team action for the first time since December at the weekend. The Scotland international took the captain’s armband in the absence of Scott Brown against Motherwell, and Celtic fans will be very pleased to have the versatile player back in action. A force in both attack and defence, the quality he provides on the Bhoys’ left flank might be crucial at Tynecastle on Wednesday evening.