I’d fully expect Mikey Johnston to play on the left wing (Elyounoussi doesn’t appear to be fully fit yet but may feature in the second half) while Odsonne Edouard will surely start as our main striker (I suspect the unsuccessful Lewis Morgan experiment will be drawing to a close as Leigh Griffiths slowly but surely regains fitness) while all the other top players who were rested for the Cluj game will undoubtedly be involved against Hibs.
Given the Easter Road side’s propensity to come forward, pressing high, attempting to knock us off our stride and play on the front foot, the onus will be on us to close them down well and take a firm grip of the midfield. The on form Boyle must not be given space to charge forward on his dangerous marauding runs while the creative threat represented by Scott Allan must also be nulliefied. Broonie and Calmac will have their hands full. Both Hibs full backs are stronger going forward than defensively and are sometimes guilty of leaving considerable areas of space unguarded in the wide areas which is something our wide men would be looking to exploit. Hanlon has been a great club servant for Hibernian but lately he’s been something of a bombscare for them so he should be put under a lot of pressure when in possession.
Given our firepower, the wobbly defender could be in for a bad afternoon.
I expect to see a strong reaction after the below par performance by several of our first team players in the recent hun final and we should be able to detect a hunger in all our players that wasn’t visible last Sunday.
Bar the recent Hamilton game, our performances at home have been hugely satisfying with several of our bhoys in scintillating form. We have hit a slight slump of late which could be due to both physical and mental fatigue but after this wee rest we ought to see a rejuvenated Celtic ready to take the bull by the horns and successfully negotiate this tough December fixture list.
As very few teams in Scotland are prepared to go toe to toe with us at Celtic Park, Sunday’s contest against the attack-minded Hibs could serve up a football treat. We have to be very wary of their speed and precision when breaking forward, however , and it could be a bit like entering a boxing ring when you are expected to win the fight due to your superior technical ability but you still have to be extremely cautious as your opponent packs a mean punch.
Frimpong Ajer Jullien Taylor
Forrest Christie Johnston
Subs: Gordon, Bolingoli, Bitton, Ntcham, Rogic, Shved (if fit), Griffiths
Prediction: Celtic 3 Hibs 1 (Edouard, Christie, Johnston)