3 more changes after Motherwell rout, 2 big attacking swaps; Celtic predicted XI vs Aberdeen

By David Walton

February 9, 2022

The fixture list just doesn’t let up at this time of year and Celtic are straight up the road to take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie in a tricky-looking league fixture tonight.

All of the momentum is with the Hoops after mammoth wins against Rangers and Motherwell respectively. However, despite scoring 7 goals in those 2 games alone, it’s imperative that the players’ feet are kept well and truly on the ground.

Nothing less than 3 points continues to be the imperative goal every time Celtic step out onto the field for a Scottish Premiership match. After overtaking Rangers at the top last week, there’s a hunger to pile the pressure on them and see if they can keep up.

And even though Celtic’s schedule continues to be hectic with games every 3 to 4 days, Ange Postecoglou’s squad continues to grow stronger with the return of key players from injury.

You can expect rotation again tonight when the Hoops face off against the Dons. But who makes our predicted XI for it? Let’s delve right in and find out:

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic Predicted XI vs Aberdeen

Joe Hart was again left untroubled in the 4-0 win against Motherwell outside of one early stop in the second half. He continues to be razor-sharp on the rare occasions Celtic need him to pull off a save. However, despite not being asked to do much in recent times, his momentum continues to grow with 3 consecutive clean sheets. He’ll be looking for 4-in-a-row tonight.

Anthony Ralston started at right-back against Motherwell and excelled. But for me, it was the clearest indication that Josip Juranovic was being rested for tonight. He’ll take his spot in the team back with Greg Taylor operating down the left. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, meanwhile, will continue their fine defensive partnership.

The same goes for the resting of Matt O’Riley against the Steelmen. He’s almost certain to come into the side tonight. But who does he replace? We know Callum McGregor will continue to be the first name on the teamsheet, so expect O’Riley to play alongside Callum in the engine room.

This will give Reo Hatate the opportunity to do some damage to Aberdeen in the final third in behind the front 3. Expect plenty of fluidity from that midfield of course. O’Riley isn’t afraid to get forward himself and it’s that rotation that causes so many teams problems against Celtic.

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Yes, that means Tom Rogic goes back to the bench tonight after his stunning 2-goal show at Motherwell. It’s the most logical solution given his exploits both for Australia last week and his prolific Fir Park display. In terms of rotation, he seems the most likely to drop back out as he recharges the batteries.

Meanwhile, Jota and Liel Abada have both started down the flanks in every one of Celtic’s biggest games in 2022 when fit. The pair were selected at both Tynecastle against Hearts and for the recent Glasgow derby. On-loan Benfica man Jota may have been dropped for Fir Park, but again, this was likely to ensure he was fit and ready to blow Aberdeen away this evening.

Up top comes our final change from Sunday’s 4-0 rout. Giorgos Giakoumakis drops to the bench whilst Daizen Maeda takes up the centre-forward role. As impactful as Giorgos has been in recent weeks, Aberdeen don’t have the quickest of centre-backs. Using Maeda’s pace to get in behind as well as his link-up play with Abada and Jota – it’s the best combination to overwhelm our Pittodrie foes.

Your predicted XI in full is: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, O’Riley, Hatate, Abada, Jota, Maeda

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