Sunday, February 5, 2023

Prediction: Hearts vs Celtic

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 19/20

Bookmaker: Unibet

Looking to put what has been a nightmare week behind them, Celtic will open the 2021/22 Premiership campaign when they travel to a returning Hearts on Saturday night.


Starting with the hosts, while Hearts might have lost their Premiership status among a string of off-field issues back in 2019, The Jambos appear to have put their problems behind them. Enjoying what was a real romp as they dropped down to the second-tier last season, Robbie Neilson’s side secured their immediate return by holding a commanding 12-point buffer at the top of the standings. Although they might know that they open the 2021/22 campaign with a tough task on home soil, fans around Tynecastle have seen their side enjoy an eye-catching pre-season run over the past month. Last seen picking up a 1-0 victory against Inverness on home soil in the League Cup last weekend, Hearts have won all four of their Group A matchups and the mood in their camp should be at a high. Even more impressive for Neilson, it should be noted that his Premiership returners have recorded a clean sheet in each of those four League Cup victories.

Team News

Recording three goals in Hearts’ four League Cup victories, last year’s Golden Boot winner Liam Boyce will lead Robbie Neilson’s side this weekend.

Arriving from Championship side Preston this summer, Josh Ginnelly should start on the left-hand side of Hearts’ midfield.


As for the visitors, while Hearts might be looking forward to this weekend’s Premiership opener, Celtic are a side that is still dealing with a difficult week. Once again crashing out of the Champions League qualifiers for the fourth season on the bounce, The Hoops suffered a shock 2-1 defeat away at Danish outfit Midtjylland, a result that saw them come under real scrutiny. Now under the guidance of new boss Ange Postecoglou, the former Scottish champions have really struggled to find their feet since bringing in the one-time Melbourne Victory coach. Desperate to bring in some new arrivals before the transfer window slams shut, Celtic have now failed to win any of their last five straight contests including their pre-season preparations. Putting in a nightmare display as Premier League outfit West Ham hit them for six last weekend, Postecoglou will have a real headache over his side’s rather glaring issues at the back.

Team News

Missing Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat out in Denmark due to suspension, key defender Nir Bitton will slip right back into the heart of Celtic’s defence.

Despite a string of speculation surrounding his future, Odsonne Edouard should still lead Celtic’s line on Saturday night.

Key Factors to Consider

    • When Saturday’s opponents last faced off in the Scottish Cup final last year, Celtic won via a penalty shoot-out following a 3-3 draw at Hampden.
    • In fact, The Hoops have won each of their last nine straight matchups against Hearts across all formats.
    • However, the former Scottish champions have failed to win any of their last five matchups.
    • Hearts have won all four of their League Cup contests over the past three weeks, recording a clean sheet in each of those victories.
    • Likewise, striker Liam Boyce has scored three goals in Hearts’ four League Cup wins.


    While Celtic might open Saturday’s trip to Tynecastle as a leading pick with the bookmakers, The Hoops could face another tricky test on the road. Suffering more Champions League heartbreak out in Denmark earlier in the week following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Midtjylland, the now-former Scottish champions have struggled to find their feet under new boss Postecoglou. With an inexperienced young defence and also hit for six by Premier League side West Ham in a pre-season friendly last weekend, Postecoglou is still searching for his first competitive victory. Up against a Hearts side who really romped their way to an immediate Premiership return, they should find the mood in their camp at a high. Winning all four of their League Cup victories over the past three weeks, Saturday’s hosts might fancy their chances of springing an upset.

    Verdict: Both teams to score

    Best Odds: 19/20

    Bookmaker: Unibet


    Tom Dunstan

    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan



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