Our Celtic XI vs Livingston is one that was highly-successful for Neil Lennon towards the end of 2020.

Indeed, Celtic’s best spell of the campaign performance-wise came in December. Wins against Lille, Kilmarnock, Ross County, Hearts, Hamilton, and Dundee United looked to return the confidence back to Parkhead. Then Ibrox happened.

But forget all that. The fact is our initial upturn was due to a certain team playing a certain system. Lennon got a lot of joy with the 4-4-2 diamond system. There hasn’t been a poor performance to go with the diamond yet. Our recent draws against Hibernian and Livingston respectively came simply because of the Dubai debacle.

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Lennon has come out absolutely firing at everyone from the media to the government (PLZ Soccer). He’s not a happy man, and a siege mentality looks to have been created from his fiery presser yesterday. And after a second unnamed Celtic player tested positive after being a close-contact over the last week, we take a look at our predicted XI for tomorrow night’s tough trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Celtic XI vs Livingston to contain five changes

For us, five changes will be made as Lennon looks to revert back to what was working for him. Conor Hazard may have secured a clean sheet against Livi on Saturday, but it won’t count for much. Lennon will throw Vasilis Barkas back into the sticks.

Jeremie Frimpong played more advanced at the weekend. That won’t continue. Expect him to be hauled back to his usual right-back position with Anthony Ralston dropped to the bench. Down the other side, Diego Laxalt is a cert to keep his spot despite Greg Taylor becoming available again.

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Nir Bitton and Shane Duffy didn’t impress as a partnership against Livi at the weekend. Duffy in particular looked woefully under-par once again, and his time in the team is surely up. Kristoffer Ajer will come back into the side, and it will be at the expense of Duffy. That means he and Bitton will partner each other for the first time since Ibrox.

 

Now the exciting bit. The return of the diamond!

Celtic stars Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull

Celtic stars Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Indeed, Ismaila Soro will take his now nailed-down spot at the deepest point of the four-man midfield. On the right side, Ryan Christie will return as the first part of a 23-goal trio who will come back into the side tomorrow.

No surprises that Callum McGregor will take his place on the left side. He really needs to offer Laxalt much more support than he has done in recent games. With the return of some key big-hitters up top, he should have more freedom to do so.

David Turnbull had a rare off-day against Livi on Saturday. However, that’s his only bad game since coming into the team against Lille back in December. He’ll start again and in behind an extremely exciting strike partnership of Leigh Griffiths and Odsonne Edouard.

Griff has seven efforts to his name this season to add to Edouard’s 12 (Transfermarkt). Their return along with Christie should finally provide us with the attacking intent we need to get back on the goal trail.

Obviously, we can’t ignore the fact that a second player has tested positive. We don’t yet know who that is outside of the fact it wasn’t a player who took part against Hibs or Livi. So it could be one of several mentioned in this predicted XI. Hopefully, whoever it is, they make a speedy recovery.

Predicted XI: Barkas, Frimpong, Ajer, Bitton, Laxalt, Soro, Christie, McGregor, Turnbull, Griffiths, Edouard

In other news, we discuss how if the Celtic players don’t fight for Lennon after yesterday – they never will.

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