Fan favourites to return; Celtic predicted XI vs Aberdeen

By Sean Clifford

April 21, 2021

John Kennedy and his Celtic side know they need to get back to winning ways away at Aberdeen on Wednesday.

The Hoops come into the fixture with not much to play for other than a victory. However, we have the edge over our opponents this season. In the four meetings between the clubs including the delayed Scottish Cup semi-final, Celtic have won three and drawn once [Sky Sports].

In years gone by, the Celts have obliterated the Dons routinely and are currently unbeaten against the opponents in 10 Scottish Premiership fixtures [WorldFootball]. In present times, Celtic’s divisional rivals are undergoing a new era after dismissing long-serving manager Derek McInnes [Evening Express].

Since then, Aberdeen have moved to 44-year-old appoint Stephen Glass [Aberdeen FC]. Commencing his work with a Scottish Cup triumph over Livingston [BBC], Celtic will face a rejuvenated side chasing European football qualification. While the encounter may come with little material significance, bouncing back from defeat is in Celtic’s DNA.

Here is our predicted XI to take on Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

Celtic predicted XI: One key change expected at the back

In goal, Scott Bain will take his place between the sticks as per expectation. The stopper has been selected in all six of Kennedy’s games in charge due to his distribution. Getting through an average of 24.7 passes per game, he should retain his place in the line-up [WhoScored].

Jonjoe Kenny will continue in the right-back slot due to a lack of options, despite poorly performing against Rangers. Centrally, Kristoffer Ajer and Stephen Welsh will be given another opportunity to strengthen their partnership. Both centre-backs have been solid for Celtic, managing to obtain an impressive four clean sheets in the last six games [Sky Sports].

Greg Taylor wasn’t happy with being accused of diving at St Mirren (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

One change will occur though, as Greg Taylor will come in for Diego Laxalt at left-back. After a torrid first half on Sunday, Taylor replaced the substituted Uruguayan international and did not look out of place. Though possessing footballing pedigree, Laxalt has been outperformed by Taylor in most statistical metrics this campaign.

The 23-year-old Scot will be looking to build on his seven assists, the joint-second highest in the Celtic squad [Transfermarkt]

Ismaila Soro will replace Scott Brown at the base of the 4-4-2 diamond system

Celtic midfielder Ismaila Soro / (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

A conflict of interest, right? In all seriousness, there is a particular discomfort surrounding the possibility of a Broony start against Aberdeen. For all parties, the most optimal solution would be to re-introduce Ismaila Soro to the fold.

The Ivorian needs to be granted opportunities, as he will be a key man in 2021/22. Personally, he will be hoping to add to his 90.1% pass success ratio, the highest sustained average in the Hoops roster [WhoScored].

In front of the 22-year-old, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie will play on the left and right of the diamond respectively. Both turned in pretty abject Glasgow Derby performances and will need to shoulder responsibility with clearer efficacy.

Further forward, attacking midfielder David Turnbull is a nailed-on certainty to play in his preferred spot. A bright spark even in the darkest of moments for Celtic, his creative intuition will be heavily relied upon. Laying on key openings, he will look to prolong his form as one of the most prominent key passers in Europe.

Reigniting an old-flame: familiar double-act will partner each-other up front

Despite heavy criticism following his derby display, Odsonne Edouard will keep his position on the team-sheet. Missing a penalty and a guilt-edge opening vs Rangers, he will be looking to bounce back by confirming his status as the leading marksman in the Scottish Premiership. At present, he is currently on 16 top-flight goals which may already be enough [Statbunker].

Celtic star Leigh Griffiths scores vs Aberdeen / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Saving the biggest surprise until last, Leigh Griffiths will make a shock return to starting proceedings. Coming on and winning a penalty against Rangers, the Scot will have the bit between the teeth as a decision on his deal looms imminently [Edinburgh Live]. As the clock ticks on his Parkhead future, the Scotland international will be given one last chance to save his Hoops career.

Celtic have been profligate in-front of goal in months gone by. Kennedy may feel the instinctive Griffiths can solve this issue.

An attack-minded team, hopefully the Celts can use their know-how and experience to bring home three points.

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