The Scottish Premier League is now only a few weeks away and the exciting is building. The big game on that opening day is Celtic against Hearts. The perpetual league champions, Celtic, will be keen to lay down a marker and what better way to do it than a comprehensive win against one of their biggest rivals? Hearts will be hoping to lay down a marker after a 2016/17 season which had its highs and lows.
Scotland Premiership – 5th Aug 2017 – 4:00 pm
Best Odd of: 1/5 at Ladbrokes
Best Odd of: 6/1 at Ladbrokes
If they are going to bridge the gap between themselves and “The Bhoys” they will have to take points from games such as this, when neither side have really broken into their stride.
Celtic was indestructible at home last season and their league form has been nothing short of outstanding. If they can hit the heights they did during that campaign, then it could be a very long day for Hearts’ supporters.
Celtic has been cruising through Champions League qualification, with a ridiculous easily win over Northern Irish side, Linfield. Over the two-legs they managed to score six goals without ever really looking like conceding.
Scott Sinclair scored in both legs and looked particularly impressive. The Hoops will do well if they can prevent him from moving onto pastures anew as he is now one of the best players in the entire league. The former Swansea player always looks dangerous and will plenty of goals in Scotland this season if he decides to stay.
The fact that Celtic have been playing in the Champions League, while Hearts has been struggling against lowly opposition in the Scottish League Cup really does emphasise the difference in aspirations between the two sides.
Their last game was a lucky win against Elgin where just a goal separated them. That sort of performance simply won’t be good enough against Brendan Rodger’s team. Prior to that, they lost in a friendly to a Newcastle side preparing for the Premier League season. That game finished 2-1, but Hearts did show flashes of good play early in the tie.
Leigh Griffiths behaviour after the Linfield game has been highlighted throughout the media and the Scottish striker may even miss the league opener after an investigation was launched by Uefa.
One player that Celtic will definitely be without is Emilio Izaguirre. The long-serving defender is making his way to Saudi Arabia as part of a €1.5m move.
Hearts will be hoping new striker Kyle Lafferty has bedded into the side by the time this fixture arrives. The Northern Irish international is a proven performer for his country, but has never really shined as a club player.
The former Norwich player is at the stage of his career where it is now or never, so he will be hoping to impress in the SPL.
Celtic’s league season last year was nothing short of outstanding. They had the league tied up with half of the season left to go.
However, Brendan Rodgers’ sides do have a habit of taking their foot off the gas on occasion – just look at Celtic’s game against Gibraltar side Red Imps last year. The Hoops lost 1-0 to a group of part-timers because they were over complacent.
We actually envisage something similar happening here, so we are backing the draw at a price of 31/5 with Ladbrokes. Of course, we do know that Celtic are the stronger side on paper, but as the old saying goes: “football isn’t played on paper, it’s played on grass!”