Hearts vs Celtic: Preview, team news and predicted XI

The new season finally gets underway this weekend, as Celtic face a tricky start away to Hearts. Celtic’s season actually started in the middle of July with the Champions League qualifiers and are in with a great chance of making the group stage.

Celtic go into the game tomorrow with still a number of players out injured. The main one being Patrick Roberts. Roberts went off during the week after pulling a hamstring and is said to be out for up to 3 weeks. Some reports say it isn’t as bad as first feared though.

Nir Bitton, Gary Mackay-Steven and Erik Sviatchenko are all injured although they have returned to light training. Kris Commons and Dedryck Boyata are close to being fit but also miss out. They could feature in the Inter Milan game.

Lastly, Jozo Simunovic is still out with his knee injury but he’s back doing some training and is working on his fitness after a lengthy spell out.

PREDICTED XIThere are a few problems still with the defence, mainly the fact that Sviatchenko is out injured still. O’Connell has come in and done a decent job and I expect he will keep his place. Toure should step in and make his full debut over Ambrose. Tierney and Lustig should be the full backs.

Scott Brown will be in the team and it’s a pick between McGregor and Bitton for the other spot. I’ve got with McGregor as he offers that bit more at the minute and can get forward and support if need be. Bitton could be one of the ones eventually sold.

With the injury to Roberts midweek, I expect Forrest to step in to replace him. They are similar players, although Roberts is 10x better. Johansen came on during the week and shower glimpses of a return to form and he could start over Armstrong. Griffiths should start as well as he still remains Celtic’s best goal threat.

Up top, Dembele should come back in. He got his goal at last during the week and you could see what it meant to him. He showed great responsibility to step up and hit the penalty in the dying minutes of the game to send Celtic into the play off round. Domestically, Dembele and Griffiths should both be starting.

MANAGERS THOUGHTS

“I’m really looking forward to it. It feels like we have played half a season already.

We’ve played so many games over the course of the pre-season and obviously factor in the competitive nature of the qualifiers so it feels as if we have been up and running for quite some time but I’m really looking forward to the first Scottish Premiership game.

One of the reasons to come up here was to look to retain the title so it’s a tough start for us. Robbie (Neilson) is an outstanding coach and manager.

I spent some time with him when he came down to Liverpool for a couple of days and I had a chance to have a good chat with him.

He was an excellent player for Hearts and I think he’s a very good manager and I’m sure his team will be well organised and hard to beat. It’ll be a tough game.”

PREVIEWIn the last 5 head to head meetings, Celtic have won 3 of them and drew the other 2. 10-5 is the aggregate score.

Celtic have won 4 of the last 5 head to heads at Tynecastle, drawing the other 1. 13-4 is the aggregate score.

Celtic have actually won 8 of the last 9 games against Hearts at Tynecastle, drawing the other 1. 

You have to go back to October 2011 to find the last time Hearts beat Celtic at Tynecastle, when they won 2-0.

April 2012 was the last time Hearts beat Celtic in all competitions, when they won 2-1 in the Scottish Cup with a last minute penalty.

In the last 44 matches between both clubs at Tynecastle, Celtic have won 28 of them, drawing 7 and losing 9. 93-45 is the aggregate score line.

BETS

Celtic to win and both teams to score at 12/5.

Moussa Dembele to score anytime at 6/4.

Wait for team news first.

Good luck.

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