Hearts Double Header Awaits

Celtic took care of business with an emphatic 5-1 win at St Mirren yesterday, which sets them up for a league and cup double header against Hearts. Ange’s team will be targeting no less than victory in both games, something they achieve more often than not, and that’s important that they do so again.

Although Celtic have one hand on the SPFL trophy, Sunday’s first half scare shows that we all need to see the nine point gap maintained for our own health and stress levels. Indeed, a reduction to six points with two derby games remaining would mean that the title race would be alive, whereas nine points is a gap that keeps Celtic well out of reach.

It’s the league fixture that comes first on Wednesday at Paradise. The game being at home makes victory an easier proposition on paper, but there’s no chance that Ange will rest players with a view to Saturday’s outing. It’ll be his strongest XI going at it. Liel Abada may have played his way into the team, and Jota’s goal could have been enough to keep his place. Meanwhile, Maeda has been in great form since the World Cup – albeit he has dipped in his last two outings – and Haksabanovic is now knocking on the door for more first team action since returning from his injury. The wings will be positions that the manager may ponder, along with a decision whether to play Matt O’Riley, who scored at the weekend or continue with the midfield trio of McGregor, Mooy and Hatate. Kyogo, the back four and Joe Hart pick themselves.

Matt O’Riley scores against St Mirren

Once the league game has been dealt with, and only then, Celtic will turn their attention to Scottish Cup action. The Hoops have already secured the League Cup and look good for the title; therefore, this Cup fixture is the next game of real importance in our season. We could well be three games away from the treble. Certainly that is a view held by many in Scotland.

A trip to Tynecastle is the toughest draw available – Ibrox aside. Celtic had to dig deep to defeat Hearts and VAR last time they visited the venue, coming away with a 4-3 success. It’ll be a tough challenge, but one that needs to be overcome if Ange is to go a step beyond last season’s domestic double.

The full squad will be required over both games and it’ll be outstanding if Celtic can end the week with at least a nine point lead maintained in the SPFL and a trip to Hampden in the offing.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 22nd October 2022. Referee Nick Walsh signals a penalty to hearts after consulting var during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh. Picture credit should read: Neil Hanna / Sportimage PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK SPI-1975-0009

About Author

Hailing from an Irish background, I grew up on the English south coast with the good fortune to begin watching Celtic during the Martin O'Neill era. I have written four Celtic books since the age of 19: Our Stories & Our Songs: The Celtic Support, Take Me To Your Paradise: A History Of Celtic-Related Incidents & Events, Walfrid & The Bould Bhoys: Celtic's Founding Fathers, First Season & Early Stars, and The Holy Grounds of Glasgow Celtic: A Guide To Celtic Landmarks & Sites Of Interest. These were previously sold in Waterstones and official Celtic FC stores, and are now available on Amazon.

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