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Celtic v Hearts (Match Preview)

Probabilities for the match are Celtic 78%, Hearts 7% and 15% for the draw. It was 76% for the corresponding tie in August so only 2% more for the likelihood of a Celtic win which seems a little bit surprising.

Hearts v St Johnstone

In their last league game against St Johnstone Hearts won 3-0 but the xG was a bit closer at 1.63 to 1.19 for Hearts.

Hearts lined up in a 3-4-2-1 formation;

  • 28 Zander Clark

  • 72 James Hill, 15 Kye Rowles and 3 Stephen Kingsley

  • 2 Michael Smith, 7 Jorge Grant, 77 Robert Snodgrass and 19 Alexander Cochrane

  • 9 Lawrence Shankland and 18 Barrie McKay

  • 30 Josh Ginnelly

Out of the team that started against St Johnstone Alexander Cochrane is the only player to have started in both the games against Celtic this season so far.

Halliday, Forrest, Kiomourtzoglou, Devlin and Kuol all came on as subs against St Johnstone for Snodgrass, Cochrane, McKay, Ginnelly and Smith.

Celtic v Hearts

In the corresponding fixture in August Celtic won 2-0 with 2.78 xPts and 2.62 xG v 0.15 xG for Hearts. Kyogo and Giakoumakis getting the goals and Celtic leading from the 14th minute.

42% of Celtic’s attacks came down the left side with 34% down the right however the proportion of xG created was 40% down the left and 40% down the right.

Greg Taylor received the most passes receiving 63 with 20 coming from Jenz. Jenz made the most passes in the game with 89.

Cochrane (playing left back of a 4 that day) received the most for Hearts with 22 passes received and 6 of them coming from Halliday. Goalkeeper Ross Stewart made the most passes for Hearts with 34 however only 32% of them were accurate.

Top players for xG in this game were Kyogo 0.81, Giakoumakis 0.67 and O’Riley 0.37. Top for xA were Jota 0.66, Juranovic 0.45 and Maeda 0.31.

Celtic had 8 offsides in this game and that was the joint 2nd highest amount of offsides in a game an Ange Celtic team have had. Also some of these offsides were very debatable. With VAR now installed could this be the night that VAR benefits Celtic? Hearts had an average formation line of 56.8 in this game. Compare that to St Mirren’s 35.8 at the weekend.

Hearts 2022/2023

Hearts are the slowest team in the league for direct speed and have the third highest passes per sequence.

They are 3rd in the league for passes per match at 345 and they are 4th for possession (behind Hibs in 3rd) on 53.9%. However they are only 6th for corners and 11th for accurate crosses.

Looking at pressing and they are 9th for possession won in the final 3rd, 10th for fouls per match and 5th for PPDA.

Hearts are 3rd league but 4th in the xPts league table behind Hibs. For actual goals scored and goals conceded they are 3rd and for expected goals scored and conceded they are 3rd and 11th.

11th for xG conceded is a very alarming stat and it carries on from last year when they were 5th for xG conceded despite finishing 3rd in the league.

They are 6th for away performances and they are not the same threat at Celtic Park as they are at Tynecastle. In the game at Tynecastle in October Hearts actually had a higher xG than Celtic (2.9 v 2.81) and that is the only time that a team has had a higher xG than Celtic in the league this season.

Below is the xPts for Hearts by game this season and you can see a 9 game unbeaten run in there.

Hearts Players

Shankland is 4th in the SPFL for xG per 90 on 0.75 however that includes 0.30 of Penalty xG per 90 (due to his 9 penalties) and 0.45 NP xG would take him down to 11th.

Midfielder Jorge Grant is 20th for xG on 0.3 per 90. Grant is 18th for xA per 90 on 0.2 and that is 2nd best in the league outwith Celtic and Rangers. He is also 5th for successful tackles per 90 at 1.7 and 4th for possession won in the final 3rd at 1.2 per 90.

Barrie McKay was the top player out with Celtic and Rangers last season (at 7th) for xA on 0.29 per 90 but he has dropped to 0.18 this year which is 25th. He is 7th for successful dribbles per 90 this season at 1.9.

Kye Rowles is 14th in the league for accurate passes per 90 at 54.6.


Given that Hearts don’t sit in like other teams do, that VAR will assist Celtic in not being incorrectly flagged for offside and that Kyogo and Maeda are playing well at the moment (and will get in behind Hearts) I fancy Celtic to win this game 7-0 at 50/1.

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