Our predicted XI may not read to well for some of the January signings, but three points on Saturday is all that matters.
Neil Lennon makes an emotional return to Celtic Park as Hoops manager for the first time since 2014. The opponent will be Derek McInnes’ inconsistent Aberdeen.
Lennon’s first week at the club has been a hugely successful one, with consecutive wins over Hearts and Hibernian respectively.
There could be a strong chance that Celtic have the opportunity to extend their eight-point lead at the top of the Premiership. Rangers have a tough trip to Easter Road on Friday night, and it’s very conceivable they could drop a couple of points.
But the motivation should be there for the Celtic players regardless on Saturday. A chance to make it 12 consecutive domestic wins on the spin and increase momentum should be all that’s needed. So let’s take a look at who we think will start the match against the Dons.
Scott Bain seems to have kept his place under Lennon after a string of appearances since the winter break under Brendan Rodgers. He made an error at Tynecastle, and had almost nothing to do at Easter Road. But it seems as though Lennon isn’t ready to play Gordon ahead of him at the moment.
Mikael Lustig slotted in at right-back against Hibs. We speculated before the Hibs match that Jeremy Toljan’s place was up for grabs. The German has been a disappointment, and we’re going to predict that Lustig keeps his place after a decent enough performance in Leith.
Kieran Tierney at left-back with a partnership of Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer in the centre seems the logical approach.
Brown and Bitton to resume partnership
Scott Brown and Nir Bitton have featured in each of the last two matches with each other. Bitton expressed in this week’s Celtic View (Volume 54, Issue 32, page 18) that he was delighted to be back from injury. We expect both he and Brown to feature once again.
If there’s one area of the Celtic squad you could mix it up in, it has to be the forward areas.
Lennon labelled James Forrest as one of the greats after the Hibs clash, and has started Scott Sinclair in the last two games too. Expect those two to start on either flank once more.
One experiment that didn’t work last Saturday was Odsonne Edouard as a number 10. His influence at Easter Road was minimal, and we’re going to predict he gets dropped to the bench for Saturday.
In his place, we’re going to say Oliver Burke gets another shot up front just ahead of Ewan Henderson. Timothy Weah may come on as a sub, but at the moment he isn’t being given much of an opportunity. Both he and Toljan are in slight danger of just fading into the background unless they can pull something out of the hat.
This is, of course, all without the benefit of hearing the updated injury news this week. Lennon is still to have his presser at the time of writing, and therefore this could be subject to change.
Below is our full, initial predicted XI in list form: