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Celtic will look to return to the summit of the Scottish Premiership this weekend when they take on Livingston at home on Saturday.
Despite beating both Ross County (0-5) and St Mirren (1-2) away in their rescheduled double-header, the results were not as straight forward as Celtic manager Neil Lennon would have intended.
Ross County struck the woodwork twice and forced Vasilis Barkas into making some smart saves after some defensive mix-ups. At The Simple Digital Arena on Wednesday, St Mirren went ahead thanks to Lee Erwin who bundled in a Joe Shaughnessy header at the back post. The game would have been out of sight if it were not for some goalkeeping heroics by emergency loan signing Zdenek Zlamal who saved Odsonne Edouard’s penalty and a fine strike from Callum McGregor. Both of these matches have highlighted Celtic’s defensive frailties as Neil Lennon struggles to find his favoured starting eleven. Nevertheless, the firepower at the other end of the pitch has seen Lennon’s Celtic side win their last 4 consecutive matches as they look to catch their Old Firm rivals at the top of the table.
When Celtic welcomes Livingston to Celtic Park on Saturday they will look to continue their fine form and keep their defensive mishaps to a minimum. After resting both Jeremie Frimpong and Mohamed Elyounoussi midweek, it is anticipated that Neil Lennon will ring in the changes for the match on Saturday. Livingston will be looking for a positive result following their late defeat to Brian Rice’s Hamilton Accies side last Saturday. Livingston have never won at Celtic Park, with their last outing at Parkhead resulting in a 4-0 defeat.
As Livingston will be without striker Lydon Dykes following his record transfer move to Queens Park Rangers who caused Celtic’s defence so much trouble in the past, it is unlikely to see Livingston taking any points from this match. Scott Pittman’s attacking threat from Livingston’s midfield should not be underestimated by Lennon’s side as the midfielder is never shy to make forward runs. However, if Celtic can keep Livingston’s star man quiet, they should be in for a fairly comfortable afternoon. As Livingston will look to set up with five in midfield with Marvin Bartley sitting in front of the back 4, Celtic’s wide men will need to be on their game to break down a turgid Livingston side.
As Callum McGregor will look to continue his fine vein of form and the importance of Celtic’s wide men to break down a compact Livingston side, McGregor looks a good bet to be to score a goal. Livingston have failed to win away from home in their last 7 outings, whereas Celtic have scored at least 2 goals in 25 of their last 28 premiership matches. Celtic look comfortable for a 3-1 win come the final whistle at Celtic Park on Saturday.
Starting Team – Kick-off at Celtic Park is 3pm.
CELTIC: Barkas, Taylor, Duffy, Brown, Ajeti, Christie, Ntcham, Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Elhamed.
Subs: Bain, Bitton, Klimala, Soro, Turnbull, Rogic, Edouard, Elyounoussi, Forrest
Livingston – McCrorie, Devlin, Ambrose, Guthrie, Brown, Serrano, Bartley, Holt, Sibbald, Pittman & Tiffoney. Subs – Stryjek, Taylor-Sinclair, Lawson, McMillan, Pignatiello, Robinson, Forrest, Poplatnik & Lokotsch.