Preview: Celtic vs. Hearts: Prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Scottish Premiership clash between Celtic and Hearts, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Celtic host hearts on Saturday afternoon in search of victory that will bring them one step closer to defending their Scottish Premiership title.

Meanwhile, Hearts travel to Glasgow looking to reinforce their third position in the table after an impressive campaign.

Match preview

Brendan Rodgers, Celtic manager, on April 20, 2024© Reuters

Given Rangers’ recent struggles, it would be a huge surprise if Celtic fail to successfully defend their top-flight crown in the coming weeks.

However, the gap to their Old Firm rivals remains just three points despite successive wins over St Mirren and Dundee.

Brendan RodgersThe team had to endure the last 16 minutes of the latter to seal an important 2-1 victory, keeping their destiny in their own hands.

Celtic will also play three of their last four games at Celtic Park, with their only away game against fourth-placed Kilmarnock.

However, in their last 17 games in the Scottish Premiership, Celtic have only suffered two defeats, both against Hearts.

Steven Naismith”s team is almost guaranteed to finish this campaign in third position after a stupendous harvest of 62 points in 33 games.

Only prevailing in three of their last eight matches is frustrating for everyone associated with the Edinburgh-based team, but they remain on a four-match unbeaten run.

Hearts have recorded consecutive victories over Celtic, one match each home and away. Before that, Celtic had won their previous 10 games.

With Rangers visiting Tynecastle on the final weekend of 2023-24, Naismith and his players can have a direct impact on the fate of the league title.

Celtic Scottish Premier League Form:

Celtic form (all competitions):

Hearts Scottish Premiership Form:

Heart shape (all competitions):

Team News

Hearts manager Steven Naismith reacts on October 29, 2023.© Reuters

Barring further injury problems, Rodgers could select the same Celtic XI that started the win at Dundee.

Even if Daizen Maeda If he can return soon from a hamstring injury, he will likely be limited to appearing off the bench.

Adam Idah should also be in reserve, despite the Republic of Ireland international replacing Kyogo Furuhashi after 62 minutes of the last timeout.

Hearts will evaluate the fitness of Beni Baningime after the midfielder had to be withdrawn against Kilmarnock due to feeling unwell.

Macauley Tait is on hold to enter the engine room, but Naismith may opt to retain the rest of his starting lineup.

Possible starting lineup for Celtic:
Deer; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor, Hatate; Kuhn, Furuhashi, Forrest

Heart’s possible starting lineup:
Clark; Kingsley, Kent, Rowles; Lembikisa, Devlin, Baningime, Grant, Cochrane; Shankland, Vargas

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We say: Celtic 2-0 Hearts

Games like this mean Celtic won’t get carried away in the title race and that should sharpen their focus. Hearts have the makings of a result at Celtic Park, but we believe the leaders will produce one of their most professional performances of the campaign to seal the three points.

For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, click here.

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