Celtic will make their first and potentially only trip to McDiarmid Park tonight as we get set to take on Tommy Wright’s St Johnstone.
The game has all the makings of a party atmosphere if we start on the front foot and perform the way we should do. St Johnstone have conceded an incredible 23 goals in five games against us, and with this game coming three days after Rangers lost at Tynecastle, the club as a whole is in buoyant mood.
But we know how quickly football can hit you hard. It’ll all mean nothing if we allow Wright’s struggling Saints to spring a shock.
Picking the right team for this one will be key, as we have to be prepared for a McDiarmid Park battle. It’s time to seriously put the pressure on our rivals across the city, and this is how we expect Lennon to go about doing that tomorrow:
Fraser Forster has kept 12 clean sheets in 28 appearances this season. Tonight, we fully expect him to make it 29 at a venue we tend to enjoy (Transfermarkt).
Moritz Bauer may have to deputise at right-back once again. With Hatem Abd Elhamed and Jeremie Frimpong still out (Evening Express), the Austrian deserves a chance to build on his performance against Ross County on Saturday.
The big left-back debate, however, feels like it’s going to go on forever. Boli Bolingoli hasn’t made any of the last two squads for some reason, and it seems a straight shootout between Jonny Hayes and Greg Taylor. Lennon’s preference, in my opinion, will be to go with the former yet again.
Ajer back and ready to go
Kristoffer Ajer should return at centre-back to partner Christopher Jullien. The Norwegian will be itching to put an inconsistent run of form behind him starting with tonight.
Ismaila Soro may have signed, but Lennon confirmed he won’t be in the squad for tonight (Celtic TV). That means that Scott Brown and Callum McGregor will retain their places like always.
But what about Olivier Ntcham? Well, I don’t believe there’s a place for him this week with Ryan Christie back. If push comes to shove, you can’t see Lenny dropping McGregor or Brown for him. With Christie’s suspension up, however, it would be odd to leave out a player who has 17 goals to his name this season (Transfermarkt).
Mikey Johnston, meanwhile, has been looking sharp in recent games. He looked lively against Ross County, nearly providing a fine assist for James Forrest, who will likely start on the right once again. Johnston also came close to netting at Rugby Park, and having him back in top form could be massive for us. He starts tonight in my view.
Leigh Griffiths failed to score for the first time since returning from the Winter break on Saturday. It’s hardly the end of the world, but you can’t drop Odsonne Edouard for a game of this magnitude. This is a match in which we need to solidify our position at the top. Eddy simply has to start, with hopefully another sighting of Griff and Patryk Klimala from the bench.
Below is your full predicted XI for this one: