Returning favourites and deadly attack; Celtic Predicted XI v Livingston

By Euan Davidson

September 18, 2021

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has some pretty interesting decisions to make for tomorrow’s trip to Livingston.

While his players will be agonising about which boots to pick for the unforgiving Tony Macaroni surface, the manager has a big choice of his own. Does he rotate the squad after their exertions in Seville? Or, does he go all-in against a perennial tricky opposition?

You’d have to imagine it’ll be the latter, based on what we know about Postecoglou. Yet, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see one or two fresh faces in the starting line-up tomorrow.

David Martindale has already expressed a wish to use the “advantages” he has at his disposal. But worse teams have gotten points away from the Tony Macaroni.

Let’s go all in, as they say. Here’s our Celtic Predicted XI to face Livingston tomorrow.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou has options in defence against Livingston

You’d have to imagine that, without being critical, Ange Postecoglou will have had some thoughts about his defence after Real Betis.

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Celtic can take a big step under Ange tomorrow

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Unfortunately, the Celtic boss just hasn’t had any real opportunity to play a settled back-line. Injuries and big departures have meant a generally rotated cast has been assembled for the defence.

So, the necessity of keeping momentum going would be a welcome opportunity for the Bhoys boss. Yet, I just can’t see it.

Given the physical toll of Thursday’s match, we’re predicting almost the same defence as the one that played against Betis, but with one key twist. Stephen Welsh will come in for Carl Starfelt.

Starfelt, since joining, has played a colossal 450 minutes of football [WhoScored?]. That’s more than anyone else in the squad, and when Postecoglou talked about fresh legs, it’s not impossible to think he was talking about central defence.

In terms of full-backs, we’re expecting Anthony Ralston to keep his place at right-back, with Josip Juranovic on the left. While Liam Scales is well-placed to make his debut, there’s still a feeling that this game might’ve come too early for him.

Picking Juranovic also means that Montgomery can provide an attacking threat from the bench. That’s been missing in recent games, due to injuries.

So, ahead of Joe Hart, we’re thinking: Ralston, Welsh, Carter-Vickers and Juranovic.

Photo by Mateo Villalba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

A first start for summer signing?

In midfield, it’s a little easier. We’re thinking James McCarthy will make his first start for the Bhoys.

After joining his boyhood club at last, McCarthy has had to be patient. A lack of a pre-season and a Covid diagnosis have contributed to a frustrating period for the Ireland international.

Ismaila Soro was either terrible or kept Nabil Fekir quiet on Thursday night, depending on your opinion. His tendency to rush into daft tackles was a problem against Betis, and we think he might need more work with Postecoglou in training before he’s entirely trusted to start again.

Meanwhile, it seems likely Rogic and Turnbull will be trusted to turn on the style, providing opportunities for an exciting front three.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The exciting forward options Celtic have against Livingston tomorrow

I’ve already covered this, but Celtic have a really interesting triumvirate to start tomorrow against Livingston.

With the direct running and crossing of Liel Abada, the tricks and pace of Jota and the improved finishing of Albian Ajeti, there’s every chance of Celtic grabbing a few goals tomorrow.

With the interchanges possible between Jota and Abada, there’s enough to bamboozle Martindale’s defence tomorrow. Ajeti, meanwhile, needs to continue proving to Postecoglou that he’s not an also-ran after a difficult first season at Celtic.

Given how many players we’re missing, how many new guys are in the squad and the overall newness of what Postecoglou has to hand, this is the XI we think Celtic could beat Livingston with tomorrow.

In other news: Celtic forward Jota on staying true to Postecoglou ideology

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