Predicted Celtic XI v Kilmarnock; expect "character", defender debut

By Euan Davidson

February 2, 2021

Celtic v Kilmarnock tonight represents an opportunity for the Bhoys.

Will we continue to lose against lesser opposition, or will Celtic stroll to a comfortable win against manager-less Killie [STV]?

Spare a thought for poor Alex Dyer, who did a decent job overall at Kilmarnock, first as assistant to Steve Clarke, then in his own right. Ultimately, a poor run of form was his undoing, with the manager losing his job at the weekend.

Sacking under-performing managers is an interesting approach. We wonder if it’ll catch on.

Regardless, it’s unclear what we’re going to get from Celtic tonight. Line-ups have been so unpredictable this season that I’m tempted to order a magic 8-ball off the internet. Personally, I don’t know if I have space in my living room for a bingo wheel, so I’m going to use the best information I have, and all of my expertise.

Here goes.

Jonjoe Kenny might start tonight / (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

New-look defence for Celtic v Kilmarnock

We’re expecting Scott Bain to keep his place for the visit of Kilmarnock. Clearly, the manager has no faith in Vasilis Barkas, while Conor Hazard’s mix of heroics and uncertainty mean he’s a gamble. Bain could’ve done much better with St. Mirren’s first at the weekend, but Lenny seems to like him between the sticks.

At right-back, Jonjoe Kenny has been spotted training with the Celtic first-team. If you’re into social media, you’ll recognise that a Twitter post boasting this fact included the hashtag #KILCEL. Now, using the powers of deduction, I reckon that means “Kilmarnock” and “Celtic”.

That journalism degree didn’t go to waste, let me tell you.

The middle of the defence is anyone’s guess, but we’re going to boldly assume that Kristoffer Ajer and Nir Bitton will be tasked with shutting Killie out. On the left, ex-Kilmarnock left-back Greg Taylor will presumably keep his place, ahead of the out-of-favour Diego Laxalt.

We’re going to need a mathematician to figure out how many defensive combinations we’ve played in 20-21.


Celtic captain to return

Scott Brown, Scott Brown, he’s the leader of the Celtic” [YouTube].

Broony has been benched for the majority of the Bhoys matches since the start of December. Neil Lennon seemed to indicate with his latest comments [Daily Record] that our captain will return to bring his brand of character to the first-team squad.

Look, maybe that’s what Celtic need. Despite Callum McGregor’s best efforts, the Bhoys midfield looked rudderless against St. Mirren. The leadership that Broony brings could be the tonic. Unfortunately, that means Ismaila Soro is likely to sit out tonight.

He didn’t look himself on Saturday, because in a very short time, we’re used to seeing the Ivorian boss proceedings.

Alongside him, in a midfield diamond, we’re expecting Callum McGregor to keep his place, next to David Turnbull and Ryan Christie.

Fans can be forgiven for getting a bit frustrated with Ryan Christie. For every top-corner screamer, there are about 4 or 5 shots that need fished out of the Clyde. Yet, Elyounoussi hasn’t been overwhelmingly good in the number 10 role, which is surprising.

It’s an all-Scottish midfield that we’re predicting tonight. Who knows, it might be good.

Celtic striker Albian Ajeti / (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Up front, a possible surprise inclusion for Celtic v Kilmarnock

Neil Lennon wasn’t impressed with Leigh Griffiths on Saturday, so you might see Odsonne Edouard line up with Albian Ajeti tonight.

Ajeti had a brief role in Celtic’s embarrassing defeat at the weekend, but didn’t do his Hoops chances any specific harm. Griffiths, for whatever reason, still doesn’t look right. At the moment, he’s incapable of lasting 90 minutes, and Lennon may look to the Swiss striker Ajeti to come into the team.

Edouard got a goal against Jim Goodwin’s side, and his striking form has picked up. It’d be very strange to see the Frenchman dropped.

Predicted XI – Scott Bain, Jonjoe Kenny, Kristoffer Ajer, Nir Bitton, Greg Taylor, Scott Brown (C), Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Ryan Christie, Odsonne Edouard, Albian Ajeti

Meanwhile, here’s our review of Celtic’s January business.