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May 7, 2022 at 12pm UK at Celtic Park
4 - 1
Maeda (30'), Furuhashi (37'), O'Riley (69'), Giakoumakis (90')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Simms (3')
Sibbick (31')

Preview: Celtic vs. Hearts - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Celtic vs. Hearts - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Scottish Premiership clash between Celtic and Hearts, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Celtic can secure the Scottish Premiership title this weekend with a win against Hearts at Celtic Park, which could potentially move the Hoops nine points clear of Rangers if their rivals lose on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Hearts' fate has already been sealed as they currently sit in third spot, 19 points behind Rangers but a healthy 17 points in front of fourth-placed Dundee United.

Match preview

Ange Postecoglou's side made sure that Rangers did not close the gap at the top of the table last time out, when the Glasgow neighbours played out a 1-1 draw in the fifth Old Firm derby of the season.

Jota gave the Hoops a 21st-minute lead at Celtic Park, but the visitors put their hosts under a lot of pressure, registering 14 shots in total, eventually equalising through Fashion Sakala in the second half.

That draw meant that Celtic extended their unbeaten run in the Scottish Premiership to 29 games, as they put themselves well on their way to regain the title from their Old Firm rivals.

Postecoglou's team are still unbeaten on home soil this year, winning 14 and drawing three times in 17 matches, during which time they have netted 45 goals and conceded just five, making them strong favourites for three points this weekend.

The Hoops are the top goalscorers in Scotland, having scored 81 goals in 35 matches, suggesting that Hearts' defence will have to be at its best to prevent Celtic from getting on the scoresheet.

Hearts have also put together strong run of form ahead of this encounter, currently unbeaten in their last 10 outings across all competitions, but they would have felt disappointed to only come away with a goalless draw against Ross County last time out.

The Jambos dominated possession in that match and created 17 chances in the attacking third, but failed to find the back of the net for the first time since February, a concerning factor before their trip to the side with the best defensive record in the division.

Robbie Neilson's side know that they are finishing third this year, which will be viewed as a success after bouncing straight back from the Championship last season, but they cannot let their momentum stop just because they already know where their league fate lays.

Hearts have a Scottish Cup final to look forward to later this month against Rangers, and so they will want to use their remaining three league matches to prepare for that game, with Rangers distracted by the Premiership and Europa League business.

Saturday's visitors are looking for revenge on Celtic, having lost to the Hoops on all three previous occasions this campaign, most recently losing 2-1 against Postecoglou's side in January.

Celtic Scottish Premiership form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Celtic form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Hearts Scottish Premiership form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D

Hearts form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Team News

Celtic right-back Josip Juranovic is expected to be absent from the hosts' squad this weekend, after picking up a knock last time out against Rangers.

The hosts will operate in a 4-3-3 formation, which will be lead by Jota, Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda, with Postecoglou likely to name an unchanged starting 11.

Georgios Giakoumakis and Liel Abada offer strong attacking options from the bench for Celtic, with James Forrest also certain to be named among the substitutes.

Hearts' injury list continues to be lengthy, with Beni Baningime, Craig Halkett, John Souttar and Michael Smith all ruled out of this weekend's action.

Midfielder Aaron McEneff was replaced by Ben Woodburn after just 15 minutes two weeks ago, and the former missed out last weekend, and is likely to do so again this time around.

Woodburn comes into a midfield four along with Peter Haring and wing-backs Gary Mackay-Steven and Nathaniel Atkinson, who has been in great form and received multiple high ratings across the last few matches.

Celtic possible starting lineup:
Hart; Taylor, Starfelt, Carter-Vickers, Ralston; Hatate, McGregor, O'Riley; Maeda, Furuhashi, Jota

Hearts possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Cochrane, Sibbick, Moore; Mackay-Steven, Woodburn, Haring, Atkinson; McKay, Boyce, Ginnelly

We say: Celtic 2-0 Hearts

After failing to score in their last match against Ross County, that could potentially be followed up by another match without scoring for Hearts, considering Celtic's strong record on home soil.

The Hoops will be driven to secure the Premiership title as soon as possible, and three points this weekend would all but do that for them no matter what the Rangers result will be, as their goal difference is significantly superior.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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