Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic continue this hectic festive schedule by taking on St Johnstone at Parkhead this afternoon, with Hoops manager Ange Postecoglou hoping to receive an ideal Christmas present with a positive result and performance from his team.
The 57-year-old was less than impressed with the manner of the display in the midweek triumph over Livingston, with the former Yokohama F Marinos boss insisting that the display of his side was “not so good“, despite the eventual 2-1 victory.
Postecoglou suggested that there may well be “some changes” for today’s meeting against Callum Davidson’s men, with the Scottish champions having run out 2-1 winners when the two teams met earlier this season in Perth.
With that in mind, here’s how Football FanCast predicts that the Old Firm outfit will line up (4-3-3): (GK) Hart; (RB) Carter-Vickers, (CB) Jenz, (CB) Starfelt, (LB) Taylor; (CM) McGregor, (CM) O’Riley, (CM) Turnbull; (RW) Abada, (ST) Kyogo, (LW) Forrest
The major concern for Postecoglou heading into the match is at right-back, with the Hoops sweating on the fitness of Anthony Ralston after the 24-year-old limped off last time out, Josip Juranovic afforded time off following his World Cup exploits and Alistair Johnston not eligible until the New Year.
As such, we predict that there will be three changes from the side which claimed victory on Wednesday. Summer signing Moritz Jenz is potentially set to come into the backline in place of the stricken Ralston, albeit with Cameron Carter-Vickers set to fill the void on the right of defence, having previously featured in that role in his career.
The notable alteration in midfield could see Reo Hatate give way, with the “outrageous” talent – as previously lauded by Scotland international John McGinn – having been ineffective in midweek, failing to win a single duel and losing possession 13 times.
That could well see the “phenomenal” David Turnbull – as described by pundit Alan Hutton – return alongside Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley. In attack, Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada should keep their places in the forward line.
The final alteration could see Portuguese gem Jota give way, with the 23-year-old having now failed to register a goal or an assist in any of his last four Premiership games.
That lack of impact should see the experienced James Forrest return to the starting XI, with the long-serving ace having scored ten times and registered six assists in 28 meetings against today’s opponents.