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Hearts v Celtic (Preview)

Tomorrow sees our first game of the Scottish Premiership season against newly promoted Hearts.

Hearts have flirted with 3 at the back so far this season although they did revert to a back 4 in their last game versus Inverness Caley Thistle. But I think this was due to that Soutar was missing but I believe his omission was precautionary and that he’ll return for this game.

I'm guessing they will line up 3-4-3 but that will be more of a 5-4-1 when defending a lot versus us. The debate would be the middle 2 as Haring and McEneff started their first game but were then replaced by Halliday and the young Pollock. Or will they bring in their new signing from Everton Beni Baningime. Haring will get the pick in my view as he's more defensive minded alongside Halliday.

% numbers are % of minutes each player has played in Hearts 4 games this season so far.

In regards to Celtic I have hoped for Edouard to be positioned wide left instead of central striker on his own as I don't believe he has been effective enough there either this season so far or last season.

I'm not saying he isn't trying. Maybe he is trying too hard (ie too many dribbles) or maybe his confidence is low or concentration is being affected. However the end result is that he has been ineffective. Last year he scored 25% from his shots on target while it was 47% the year before.

I believe playing him wide left would give him more space to run into and not have him shackled by our opponents' defences who obviously see him as our major threat.

Play Ajeti in the central role and Ajeti (who is a good finisher if he gets a chance) could possibly get more goals from Edouard assists and Edouard could also get more goals with the freedom he would get.

I was reminded about an article I wrote in February in regards to Edouard's performances alongside Ajeti. The article can be read here ....

In that article I commented how Edouard's goals (up 95%), % conversion rate (up 59%) and box touches (up 132%) all increase dramatically when he played alongside Ajeti.

Last season Edouard scored 5 non penalty goals that took us into the lead from 2,601 minutes played. Elyounoussi socre 6 goals that took us into the lead from 2,153 minutes played and Griffiths score 4 goals that took us into the lead from only 832 minutes. 50% of Edouard's goals last season came when we were already winning the game. His effectiveness on our result reduced.

In 19/20 Edouard scored 13 non penalty goals that took us into the lead from 2,630 mins played and the year before it was 9 from 2,475 mins played.

That's a 62% decline from 19/20 to last season.

Also in 19/20 Edouard scored 1 goal per game when playing alongside Griffiths and 0.66 goals per game when not playing alongside Griffiths.

Playing Edouard wide left would in my opinion benefit Edouard and benefit the team. It might also help create some good chances for Ajeti to score and build confidence ahead of Edouard leaving. Or do we wait till Edouard leaves before bringing in Ajeti and then Ajeti faces the same problem Edouard is facing just now?

Who would I take out to play Edouard wide left?

I'd keep Abada in the team as he won't be affected by the lack of confidence the squad has had over the last year and his energy and directness will be beneficial in this game. You could argue it is then Christie or Turnbull for that right of midfield role but although I like Soro and although I prefer McGregor in advanced role for this game I'd play McGregor in the deeper midfield role with Christie and Turnbull ahead of him.

Will Starfelt start and is Furuhashi going to be here in team?

My team would be;

- Bain

- Ralston, Welsh, Murray and Taylor

- Turnbull, McGregor and Christie

- Abada, Ajeti and Edouard

However I think Ange will go for Soro over Ajeti.

We don't need to be defensive versus Hearts. Yeah Tynecastle is always a difficult game and a battle but this is a team newly promoted from the Championship.

Yeah they have won 4 out of 4 this season so far and been leading in 55% of the minutes played but this has been against non-Premiership teams and they took until the 75th minute to score versus Inverness in their last game.

Before the Midtjylland game we were down as having a 58.8% probability of beating Hearts and that has dropped now to 55.5% however I believe we will more determined now to win this game and the probabilities don't reflect that. Yeah if we concede first our heads could go down but we will have too much for them.


- Hearts 20.9%

- Celtic 55.5%

- Draw 23.6%

My prediction is 2-0 to Celtic with Abada and McGregor scoring.

Celtic Trends 🍀📈⚽️

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